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Old Jun 24th 2017, 12:56 am   #91
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Default Re: Forest Fires

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Originally Posted by liveaboard View Post
account of a brit expat who got caught in it;
Portugal fire survivor: 'I should have died' - BBC News

It could even be one of us...
SIC Notícias | Casal inglês salvou 15 pessoas de morrerem no IC8

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Old Jun 24th 2017, 9:11 am   #92
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Default Re: Forest Fires

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Originally Posted by Ingles View Post
From the above quote !
The landlords must clean & maintain cleaned off fuel

"A stripe off more than 10 meters on both sides off any private road that gives access to buildings"

If you view the photos below off the EN 236-1 taken after the fire , it's obvious that's the above "law" has no affect when it comes to the Public Highway.
As there are Ecuy trees actually growing against the safety barrier !!!
Please Note :- 47 people where killed on this road.

Pedrógão Grande - "Estrada da morte". GNR vai avaliar todos os procedimentos
To little & much to bloody late !
This morning on the PT TV News , it was stated that a "tender" system was going to be opened so that companies could price for the clearance off trees from the "berma" - (side off the road) off the EN 236-1
According to info supplied by others on this thread , the said trees should never have been planted so close to the road in the first place!
Will any body be prosecuted for this illegal action ?
The Cellulose Industry in PT has massive political clout , so don't expect any drastic changes to the system in the near future
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 9:50 am   #93
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Default Re: Forest Fires

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Originally Posted by Ingles View Post
To little & much to bloody late !
This morning on the PT TV News , it was stated that a "tender" system was going to be opened so that companies could price for the clearance off trees from the "berma" - (side off the road) off the EN 236-1
According to info supplied by others on this thread , the said trees should never have been planted so close to the road in the first place!
Will any body be prosecuted for this illegal action ?
The Cellulose Industry in PT has massive political clout , so don't expect any drastic changes to the system in the near future
I'd agree with your caution, but it's not the industry that breaks the law, it's greedy and/or negligent individuals. I'm amazed that a state with such a love affair for fines allows these people to escape punishment - particularly since trees can hardly be hidden and the distance from tree to road is as measurable as the length of a wall.

Of course, the problem is that any actions are taken locally - and it seems that the local enforcement is as negligent (or worse) than the perpetrators. Let's be honest, these people get away with it due to influence, bribery or because they have "friends" who make any problems "go away". So, the answer is first to police the police, as it were. Who was responsible for the roads in question? Why were the owners of the trees not told to clear them? Until local officials have to prove due diligence, low-level corruption will continue - and that's a far bigger problem than even these terrible fires.
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 10:54 am   #94
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Default Forest Fires: the funding issue.

I am not, as yet, a Portuguese resident, though will be during 2018. I have been following these events with great sadness and concern, and extend my sympathy for all those affected.

I wonder whether the justifiable anger expressed in this thread and elsewhere is directed to the right sources, though. It is ultimately, of course, the responsibility of any government to create and enforce legislation, and it certainly seems that the enforcement of fire control measures has been sadly lacking. However, perhaps it goes deeper, and I would look to the funding issues of the bombeiros. As I understand it, funding arises from the camara and central government, but clearly at inadequate levels, How can anyone expect a service reliant upon unpaid volunteers (who, I understand, sometimes even have to pay for their own protective gear) and the goodwill of the population to provide equipment, to be able to fulfil the needs of the country?

Here, in the UK - which most certainly does not have the same level of fire sensitivity! - firefighters are paid for their work, equipped and supported fully by their local authorites, which have to follow national standards (I am not an expert on this area). I have never been stopped in the UK at a roundabout by firefighters requesting funds, as has happened to me in Portugal. Whilst I have willingly given a donation, I think it is really sad that this should be needed. All firefighters should, I suggest, be paid for their work, and central sources of finance significantly strengthened.

So, perhaps, proper funding is the answer.
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 11:36 am   #95
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Default Re: Forest Fires: the funding issue.

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Originally Posted by Diddion View Post
I am not, as yet, a Portuguese resident, though will be during 2018. I have been following these events with great sadness and concern, and extend my sympathy for all those affected.

I wonder whether the justifiable anger expressed in this thread and elsewhere is directed to the right sources, though. It is ultimately, of course, the responsibility of any government to create and enforce legislation, and it certainly seems that the enforcement of fire control measures has been sadly lacking. However, perhaps it goes deeper, and I would look to the funding issues of the bombeiros. As I understand it, funding arises from the camara and central government, but clearly at inadequate levels, How can anyone expect a service reliant upon unpaid volunteers (who, I understand, sometimes even have to pay for their own protective gear) and the goodwill of the population to provide equipment, to be able to fulfil the needs of the country?

Here, in the UK - which most certainly does not have the same level of fire sensitivity! - firefighters are paid for their work, equipped and supported fully by their local authorites, which have to follow national standards (I am not an expert on this area). I have never been stopped in the UK at a roundabout by firefighters requesting funds, as has happened to me in Portugal. Whilst I have willingly given a donation, I think it is really sad that this should be needed. All firefighters should, I suggest, be paid for their work, and central sources of finance significantly strengthened.

So, perhaps, proper funding is the answer.
The dedication, bravery and effectiveness of the bombeiros is not in question and, whilst more equipment is always helpful, it is not a lack which causes problems. Local funding for the bombeiros is an issue, some stations don't even have decent conditions for them to relax in when on standby - but, again, throwing money at a problem doesn't always fix it. Local volunteers are a key part of the community - and I would caution against the "professionalisation" of the service ...... it changes the dynamic between the community and the firefighters.

However, what IS needed is the will and the way to prevent these fires happening in the first place. Portugal has the worst record in Europe for them - and considering the size of the country, that's an issue. The increase in eucalyptus plantation over past years, driven by generous grants for "projects" and for maintenance that rarely happens, has led to an infrastructure of dense, sterile and flammable woodlands - which might look "picturesque" from a distance, but are cluttered, poorly planned and badly maintained up close. Read this article to appreciate the missteps taken to arrive at our current position.

Eucalyptus seeks out water, it lowers the water table, it is not edible to native species, it does not provide sheleter. In short, even for the environmental sceptic, large-scale eucalyptus plantation is pretty much a disaster. But removing it won't be quick or easy - there is no "golden age" to return to and the land can erode without cover. What is needed is an alternate, and a plan, and a willingness to put it in place. Something has to change.
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 12:11 pm   #96
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Default Re: Forest Fires



Well said Macliam.
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 12:38 pm   #97
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Default Re: Forest Fires: the funding issue.

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Originally Posted by macliam View Post
The dedication, bravery and effectiveness of the bombeiros is not in question and, whilst more equipment is always helpful, it is not a lack which causes problems. Local funding for the bombeiros is an issue, some stations don't even have decent conditions for them to relax in when on standby - but, again, throwing money at a problem doesn't always fix it..
Thanks, Macliam, and I take your point about the community element of this, though I still feel it wrong that their equipment needs are not fully met by local or national government sources. Agreed, throwing money at any problem is not guaranteed to fix it - but it often helps!

But it is possible I have also misunderstood the role of the bombeiros as far as enforcement is concerned. It is clear from your post and others that there have been many years of unwise eucalyptus planting and inadequate management. But if the bombeiros is indeed the enforcement agency, then this element of their role, at least, will surely need increased numbers and increased funding, I would have thought.

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Old Jun 24th 2017, 12:38 pm   #98
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Default Re: Forest Fires

I do hope some off you find this off interest, they are a Biodiversity Group
based in Central PT

Montis - Associação de Conservação da Natureza

When you open link , you will see 'Select a Language'
I have pre set it to "Inglês"

I have been a paid up member off this Montis since its conception
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 1:19 pm   #99
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Default Re: Forest Fires: the funding issue.

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Originally Posted by Diddion View Post
Thanks, Macliam, and I take your point about the community element of this, though I still feel it wrong that their equipment needs are not fully met by local or national government sources. Agreed, throwing money at any problem is not guaranteed to fix it - but it often helps!

But it is possible I have also misunderstood the role of the bombeiros as far as enforcement is concerned. It is clear from your post and others that there have been many years of unwise eucalyptus planting and inadequate management. But if the bombeiros is indeed the enforcement agency, then this element of their role, at least, will surely need increased numbers and increased funding, I would have thought.
The "enforcement" agency (in most cases) is the police, the GNR - and more specifically the "GNR ambiente" (SEPNA). The bombeiros are only the firefighters, they don't have enforcement powers like in the UK. That's why they are always accompanied by the GNR when there's a fire.

Due to recent amendments to the constitution (and thus the law) to make up for the poor environmental and animal welfare coverage of the past, SEPNA are stretched and the "normal" GNR have other things to do...... so many things slip by as before. This is an area which must be addressed, as there's little point in having laws that are not enforced.

Don't get me wrong, things have improved over the past 25 years. There are many concerned Portuguese and many committed GNR, but they are pushing against the "deixe lá" attititudes of some who retain power. Portugal is still a land where your treatment can depend on who you know, not what you do..... and without a push, these things will change very, very slowly. That's why it's important that tragic events like those of the last week or so are not brushed under the carpet and forgotten - those who died, those who lost loved ones, those who saw their communities suffer, deserve more than that.
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 3:25 pm   #100
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Default Re: Forest Fires

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Hi Peter, I'm glad you're safe and I hope there are no other victims. I see one of the bombeiros has died and I hope that, this year, there will be no scandalous delays in taking care of his family at this tragic time.

Having experienced my own fire last year, I can imagine the nightmare around you. I was in the open and could escape - being in the forest and at night is the stuff of horror films. I had one eucalyptus that I had chopped down and was drying out before cutting. It reignited at least half a dozen times, despite being soaked. The bombeiros called it a "fonte de fogo" and watched it for almost an hour before declaring it safe - but still told me to keep an eye on it. That was ONE eucalyptus, imagine a forest of them!

I know the area north of you, around Talhadas de Vouga, very well. My FiL's house was surrounded by forest - and the idea of being caught on the roads around him in a fire isn't something I care to dwell on. The victims all look so typical of his neighbours too - the old people, the young couples, the visitors, the emigrants returning home for a visit, the little kids. It could have neen us, any time over the last 25 years. Truly, truly horrible.

The government must act to resolve the problem of the forested areas. The number of fires in such a small country is scandalous, so the number of holdings must be reduced and managed as larger estates. If it's not economic, then the trees must be cleared - people's lives should not be at constant risk so that others can make money - others who are subsidised by eveyone in Portugal each time a bombeiro has to tackle an unnecessary fire - others, who may well be receiving a subsidy from the state for maintenance, but prefer to spend it on a new car. Time for change.
I remember watching the lunch time news about thirty five years ago and seeing the gruesome footage of fourteen firefighters that had been trapped and burnt to death, they didn't shield you in those days and I cannot remember any summers that didn't have major forest fires, we have a good President and Prime Minister at the moment and hopefully there will be some major changes after this massive tragedy.
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 4:31 pm   #101
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Default Re: Forest Fires: the funding issue.

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Originally Posted by macliam View Post
The "enforcement" agency (in most cases) is the police, the GNR - and more specifically the "GNR ambiente" (SEPNA). The bombeiros are only the firefighters, they don't have enforcement powers like in the UK. That's why they are always accompanied by the GNR when there's a fire.
Thanks for putting me right on how things are structured, macliam. Perhaps I'll understand it all a bit better once I am a resident of Portugal, next year.

So there is at any rate an enforcement issue, as noted in previous posts. This clearly must be associated with the political will, or lack of it, and maybe the provision of suitable resources?? (ie, am I completely wrong, or only partially wrong?)
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 4:41 pm   #102
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Default Re: Forest Fires: the funding issue.

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Originally Posted by Diddion View Post
Thanks for putting me right on how things are structured, macliam. Perhaps I'll understand it all a bit better once I am a resident of Portugal, next year.

So there is at any rate an enforcement issue, as noted in previous posts. This clearly must be associated with the political will, or lack of it, and maybe the provision of suitable resources?? (ie, am I completely wrong, or only partially wrong?)
Definitely resource and probably will. Easiest way for a politician to make a problem "disappear" is to pass a law and not enforce it, then wring hands and blame someone else.

As I've posted before, the nearest SEPNA unit to me is 50km away, there a 5 of them, they cover over 2000sq.km - and three came together when I had a small fire (and stayed over an hour). Not hard to see an enforcement problem there, eh?
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Old Jun 24th 2017, 8:20 pm   #103
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Default Re: Forest Fires

Over the many decades that the forests have been eucalypsed it is the major families that control Portugal's forests. To do so they are not only the major landowners, the timber extractors, the timber haulage ... they are also very often the Municipal and Freguesia officers and, of course, the politicians ! Even the GNR in Central Portugal are mainly local and intend to retire locally. So are not going to rock anyone important's boat.
As they are the ones owning the tree felling equipment and man power any money to be made from roadside clearance and compensation to landowners will be shared out between the very people causing the problem! Not exactly the long term solution Portugal needs.
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Old Jun 28th 2017, 9:57 am   #104
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Default Re: Forest Fires

If you like to contribute in helping those that lost literally EVERYTHING due to this fire , you can call "Linha Solidária" on 760 100 100
Every call will donate 0.60 cents to the Fund
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Old Jun 30th 2017, 1:56 pm   #105
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Default Re: Forest Fires

This was cropped from another ExPat WS.
I have written permission from the author who is the original poster to share.
A very harrowing story !

fire | Emma's House in Portugal
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