Fires in Castelo Branco – 20th July 2019

SITREP TUESDAY 23RD JULY 0800 HRS
 
The fire starting at Vila de Rei on 20th July remains active this morning with a total of 1037 emergency personnel deployed supported by 330 vehicles.
 
The fire in Vila de Rei and Mação had a positive evolution during the night. About 90% of the fire is already “in the process of being resolved,” Civil Protection announced a few minutes ago. “The situation is considerably more favourable compared to the end of yesterday,” Commander Luis Belo Costa told reporters at the briefing this morning.
 
Although there was a fear that the fire would enter Proença-a-Nova, this was not the case. “The work at night was very fruitful. Progression has been halted in difficult areas thanks to the use of heavy machinery, ”said the head of Civil Protection.
 
Precipitation that occurred overnight was essential for flame control. It calmed the temperature and allowed the firefighters to rest.
 
In Vila de Rei, the worst seems to have already passed in the middle of the afternoon, when the deputy mayor, Paulo Cesar, reported that there was no record of re-ignitions or active fronts. However, in the municipality, in the village of Vale da Urra a house had burned leaving a person homeless.
 
Paulo César also reported that outbuildings and sheds and houses had suffered partial damage and estimated that the area burned in the municipality was about 6,000 hectares.
 
It was reported at 0245 hrs, in the villages of Chaveirinha and Casais de São Bento, in the Mação area, there were moments of distress with the flames approaching houses. The population and the fire brigade managed to avoid the worst. At least two houses were burned according to local reports.”
 
Overnight, Civil Protection stated that the fire of Mação had extreme behaviour and warned that weather conditions on Tuesday (23rd) will be conducive to rural fires.
 
The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, intends to visit the districts of Castelo Branco and Santarém districts affected this weekend by the fires, when the situation is controlled on the ground.
 
At the briefing by the ANEPC last night the President Mourato Nunes stated that the air resources requested from Spain to help fight fires were due to “unexpected occurrences”.

UPDATE 22ND JULY 2200 HRS

 
The rural fire that erupted on Saturday in Vila de Rei is already “in resolution” in this municipality, and 70% of the fire in the municipality of Mação is also “in the aftermath”, where the flames have spread, Civil Protection announced.
 
At 2200 hrs it is still classified on the ProCiv website as a major incident and an Active fire.
 
READ MORE AND EARLIER UPDATES HERE
 
At a briefing in Sertã, where the command post is installed, Pedro Nunes, the operational commander of the North Central Group, told reporters at 2000 hrs that in the remaining 30% of the territory reached in the municipality of Mação (district of Santarém ) the fire is still has a divided active front.
 
During the afternoon, he explained, there were some reactivations and “the fire had an extreme behaviour”, with a lot of energy release, and the priority was to defend people and property.
 
For this evening, Civil Protection is redefining its strategy, resorting to the use of track machines and direct attack on the flames.
 
According to INEM, four operatives were assisted during the afternoon, bringing the total number up to 39 since the start of the fire. A civilian remains in serious condition in Lisbon.
 
VISEU DISTRICT
Two fires are active this Monday in the district of Viseu, one in Penalva do Castelo and another in Penedono, and are mobilizing more than 400 emergency personnel supported by 116 vehicles. The most surprising thing is that just over 150 kms there are reports of torrential rain and flooding.
 
The weather phenomenon, which is leaving Torre de Moncorvo under a strong storm, has not yet been explained but contrasts with the dry climate that continues to hamper the work of firefighters in fighting the fires of Viseu.
UPDATE 22ND JULY 1900 HRS
 
As at 1900 hrs a total of 1014 emergency personnel, supported by 320 vehicles and 16 aircraft/helicopters are deployed at the Vale de Rei fire.
 
ANEPC report the fire of Mação is approaching the municipality of Proença-a-Nova. GNR states national highway 244 is cut in the direction of Chaveira / Proença-a-Nova.
 
Fire has already consumed more than 7300 hectares of Pinhal Interior.
At 1600 hrs it was reported that flames are coming near some houses in the village of Roda, one of the areas most affected by the fires. The field fire brigade was reinforced with six more combat vehicles, three tankers and one more command vehicle.
 
INJURIES AND DAMAGE
 
A military officer from the GIPS (Protection and Relief Intervention Group) – GNR was injured this Monday in the fight against the flames in the fire in Casais de São Bento, Cardigos, Mação.
 
According to CDOS de Santarém, the man suffered a smoke inhalation poison and was also in a state of exhaustion. He was transported to the Hospital of Abrantes and is “stable,” according to the same source.
 
REINFORCEMENTS
 
Two Spanish aircraft are joining firefighting operations in Vila de Rei later today, according to the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI). The planes arrived after Portugal asked for help under the “Protocol between the Portuguese Republic and Spain”
 
ANEPC confirmed that 3 Kamov heavy helicopters that were being held at a heliport in the north of the country, will now be deployed having previously lacked an air worthiness certificates.
 
OTHER INFORMATION
 
Northern District District Group, Pedro Nunes, the commander said that the Armed Forces have installed a kitchen in a school in Vila de Rei, where meals are being prepared for the 1,000 or so operating.
 
Pedro Nunes asked the public to remain “alert and vigilant” and that if the fire reaches their villages, what they hope will not happen, follow the instructions and guidance of the security forces “without any delay”.
 
Meanwhile the Prime Minister António Costa underlined that the local authorities are the “first responsible for civil protection in each municipality,” responding to criticisms such as the deputy mayor of Vila de Rei on fire prevention.

UPDATE 22ND JULY – 1500 HRS
OVERALL

The Civil Protection stated a few hours ago that the fires of Vila Real and Mação are stabilised and that firefighters have already dominated 90% of the active fronts. However, the wind and heat anticipated for this afternoon may aggravate the scenario.

As at 1400 hrs a total of 1006 emergency personnel, supported by 316vehicles and 13 aircraft/helicopters are deployed

FIREFIGHTING

The fire of Vila de Rei and Mação is the only one that continues to be active and has mobilized several hundred operatives and means of combat.
At 1300 hrs today the commander of the Northern District District Group, Pedro Nunes, said at a press conference; “in the morning with the wind as an ally, the track machines made a set of firebreaks that give some breadth”.

He added, however, “in case everything goes wrong during the rest of today, the municipality of Mação and Proença-a-Nova may be in the line of fire,” cautioning that this is a possibility and in the in case the fire is out of control – we are prepared to evacuate villages.

“We are going to have a very difficult day ahead.” Teams of the GNR are being put in the villages of Chaveira, Chaveirinha and Casais de S. Bento, that are in the hypothetical line of fire.

Pedro Nunes said that since 11.00 four water bombing planes are operating bombers, which will be maintained during the afternoon, as well as a coordination plane that has made the infrared images that allow to identify the zones of greater risk, given the intensity of the heat.

WEATHER FORECASTS

Forecasts by the IPMA point to a “wind rotation” to the west from 1500 to 1600 hrs, with bursts reaching 35 kms per hour at the end of the day, at that the media attention on the ground, which reach a thousand operational, will be on the “left flank” of the fire, he said.

INJURIES AND DAMAGE

INEM reports two more minor injuries occurred, one of them a technician from INEM, who suffered a slight dislocation, and the other a firefighter. At the moment, there are 11 light and one severe injuries.

This Sunday, several houses were destroyed by the flames . “There are registers of houses affected by the flames, but we do not have a reliable number yet,” said Belo da Costa, commander of the APEPC’s South Center group. Mayor of Mação, Vasco Estrela said that at least two houses have been burned in Mação, leaving two people displaced in this municipality.

UPDATE 1100 HRS 22ND JULY
 
Fire fronts in Vila de Rei and Mação 90% dominated.
 
The Vila de Rei fire had already travelled 25 kms in a straight line, and in the afternoon it reached the municipality of Mação, placing several dwellings in danger.
 
The Polícia Judiciária (PJ) has gathered evidence as part of a criminal investigation into a fire that started on Saturday in the municipality of Sertã, in Castelo Branco district, an official source has told Lusa.
 
The source said that “some elements and items that may have been at the origin of the fire” have already been collected in the area.
 
The alleged authors of the crimes in question, the source stressed, had a “significant knowledge of and concern” with the fires because of the points where and the times the fires started,”
 
INEM have stated “For the regions affected by the fires that belong to the district of Castelo Branco are forecast 39 degrees Celsius and low humidity that can reach 15% in the afternoon. For tomorrow [Tuesday] a small fall of the maximum temperature is predicted and a slight recovery of the relative humidity.
 
A total of 1006 emergency personnel are deployed at the Vila de Rei fire supported by 321 vehicles and 7 aircraft/helicopters.
 
Comment
 
Please note in understanding the ANEPC deployment figures, which include:
• those undertaking logistical duties,
• those withdrawn from the fire scene in the area due to changing fire conditions that could place them in danger
• rotation – not all can fight the fire at the same time and need a brief rest
• Overall figures include GNR, INEM etc not just Bombeiros
0800 HRS 22ND JULY
 
The Vila de Rei e Mação fires can be mastered in the coming hours, due to favourable weather conditions and the reallocation of resources is beginning to bear “fruit”, said the commander of the Civil Protection south centre group.
 
Speaking just after midnight Belo Costa stated the situation was substantially better and the fire was giving way significantly to the fighting effort. This meant that it begins to bear the fruits we had planned, “said Commander Belo Costa.
Belo Costa said the fire has not yet reached the municipality of Proença-a-Nova, in the district of Castelo Branco: “We hope it does not arrive. We are making an effort to prevent this from happening.”
 
He added that a command post will be installed in Cardigos, in the municipality of Mação
 
INEM spokeswoman had counted 30 wounded, nine of whom had been referred to hospital units, one of them in serious condition.
 
The National Authority of Emergency and Civil Protection informed by the 23h35 that several roads were cut, highlight the National 2 between Vila de Rei and Founded. EN 244, EN 244-1 and EN 348 were also cut off.
 
The four platoons of the Armed Forces have not yet reached the ground, but this official reaffirmed that as soon as they arrive they will be placed in the less critical areas, releasing the operatives to the most problematic zones of the fire.
 
Already on the houses that were hit by the flames, the commander said that still have not had the survey done and added that, at the moment, the priority is to master the fire.
 
The commander also stressed that even if the fire can be mastered, the facilities on the ground will continue, as there is the possibility of reactivation.
 
As at 0800 hrs on 22nd July, there three fire in the District, two at Serta one Concluded and the other under Resolution and one Active at Vila de Rei. At the latter 1016 fire fighters including GNR and 323 vehicles are deployed.

 

 

SITREP 0800 HRS 22ND JULY

The Vila de Rei e Mação fires can be mastered in the coming hours, due to favourable weather conditions and the reallocation of resources is beginning to bear “fruit”, said the commander of the Civil Protection south centre group.

Speaking just after midnight Belo Costa stated the situation was substantially better and the fire was giving way significantly to the fighting effort. This meant that it begins to bear the fruits we had planned, “said Commander Belo Costa.

Belo Costa said the fire has not yet reached the municipality of Proença-a-Nova, in the district of Castelo Branco: “We hope it does not arrive. We are making an effort to prevent this from happening.”

He added that a command post will be installed in Cardigos, in the municipality of Mação

INEM spokeswoman had counted 30 wounded, nine of whom had been referred to hospital units, one of them in serious condition

The National Authority of Emergency and Civil Protection informed by the 23h35 that several roads were cut, highlight the National 2 between Vila de Rei and Founded. EN 244, EN 244-1 and EN 348 were also cut off.

The four platoons of the Armed Forces have not yet reached the ground, but this official reaffirmed that as soon as they arrive they will be placed in the less critical areas, releasing the operatives to the most problematic zones of the fire.

Already on the houses that were hit by the flames, the commander said that still have not had the survey done and added that, at the moment, the priority is to master the fire.

The commander also stressed that even if the fire can be mastered, the facilities on the ground will continue, as there is the possibility of reactivation.

As at 0800 hrs on 22nd July, there three fire in the District, two at Serta one Concluded and the other under Resolution and one Active at Vila de Rei. At the latter 1016 fire fighters including GNR and 323 vehicles are deployed.

 

UPDATE 22.00 HRS 21ST JULY

As at 22.00 hrs a total of 1291 firefighters supported by 395 vehicles were deployed at nine fire incidents. Of these 5 fires are concluded, two in Resolution and one Vila de Rei is Active. The fire at Serta which was active earlier this afternoon from re-ignitions is now downgraded to Resolution.

Smoke from forest fires in Portugal and weather conditions created a “cloud” that covered a large part of Spanish Extremadura on Sunday, Spanish meteorological services said.

 

Marcelino Núñez, the territorial representative of the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), indicated that the “cloud” was quite dense in certain places, such as Las Vegas Guadiana (Badajoz), even causing a descent in local temperatures up to four degrees

Fifteen of the 23 villages in the parish of Cardigos, Mação, were in danger this afternoon due to the flames, said António Louro, vice-president of the municipality with the Civil Protection department, in statements issued around 1700 hrs

Among the villages and places threatened by the flames, António Louro named Cardigos, the seat of parish, Freixoeiro, Carvalhal, Corujeira, Roda or Portela dos Povos, among others. The village of Cardigos, in the municipality of Mação was evacuated.

 

According to INEM the number of people injured in the fires in the centre of the country increased to 30. A resident is in serious condition at the burn unit of the São José Hospital in Lisbon. The rest are all slightly injured, mainly due to “inhalation of fumes and sprains,” he said.

 

Luís Belo Costa also said that the priority of the rescue is to ensure that the houses are protected, especially in the municipality of Vila de Rei, where the fire has already covered 25 kms. He added that there is no record of houses totally burned, although there were several houses and villages evacuated..

 

The fire at Vila de Rei is currently be fought by 848 firefighters supported by 258 veichles. Aircraft have been withdrawn overnight.

 

The Judicial Police has already gathered evidence and elements of a criminal nature about the fire that broke out on Saturday in the municipality of Sertã. All indications are that there was an intention to cause “significant damage”, with PJ being convinced that the sites chosen for the ignitions took into account the meteorology, specifically data on heat and wind

 

1700 HRS – 21ST JULY

 
The fire in the municipality of Sertã reignited this afternoon after being given as dominated at dawn. Fires continuing in the district of Castelo Branco with more than a thousand firefighters and 15 air resources mobilized, according to Civil Protection.
 
The ANEPC website registered, at 1730 hrs, seven forest fires in Castelo Branco two of which are at an Active stage, which are being combated by 1,313 operating personnel, 390 vehicles and 16 aircraft/helicopters.
 
After being given as dominated during the night, the fire that began more than 24 hours ago in Rola, Sertã, reignited today afternoon and there are 295 firefighters, 91 vehicles and an aircraft deployed.
 
At Vila de Rei, a total of “85% of the perimeter [of the fire] is already dominated, but it is at this moment with many reactivations, due to the increase in temperature and wind rotation”, which ends up generating “greater pressure” in order to keep the fire inside the dominated area, said Belo Costa.
 
“Vila de Rei is now demanding from us a redoubled focus and a redefinition of strategy,” with repositioning of means to areas that previously did not concern the authorities, he explained, noting that there are 846 firefighting personnel, 256 vehicles and 15 aircraft/ helicopters deployed – 8 of which are medium aircraft.
 
This afternoon, nearly a dozen houses at Freixoeiro were threatened, most of them holiday homes. However, it was the public that saved them them because the firefighters, who worked nearby in the woods near the village of Sarnadas, ran out of water.
 
UPDATE 1400 HRS – 21st JULY
 
The number of people injured in the fires since Saturday afternoon in the district of Castelo Branco has increased to 20, and they have spread to Mação, in the district of Santarém.
 
Currently there are 802 firefighters, 243 vehicles and 13 aircraft/helicopters, fighting the fire which is still classified as Active.
 
Speaking to reporters, Eduardo Cabrita Minister of Internal Administration reported eight firefighters and 12 civilians injured in the wake of the fire. The official added that of the 20 injured only one of the civilians is in the burn unit of the Hospital of San Jose in Lisbon. The rest are all slightly injured, mainly due to “inhalation of fumes and sprains,” he said.
The above map is the Copernicus system on the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showing the burned area and active fires in Vila de Rei and surrounding area over the last 24 hrs. It measures approximately 23 kms long by 8 kms wide.
 
The number of people injured in the fires since Saturday afternoon in the district of Castelo Branco has increased to 20, and they have spread to Mação, in the district of Santarém.
 
Currently there are 802 firefighters, 243 vehicles and 13 aircraft/helicopters, fighting the fire which is still classified as Active.
 
Speaking to reporters, Eduardo Cabrita Minister of Internal Administration reported eight firefighters and 12 civilians injured in the wake of the fire. The official added that of the 20 injured only one of the civilians is in the burn unit of the Hospital of San Jose in Lisbon. The rest are all slightly injured, mainly due to “inhalation of fumes and sprains,” he said.
 
“These fires had very difficult meteorological conditions favourable to the fires projection, very fast and circumstances that are being investigated by criminal police agencies,” said Eduardo Cabrita in statements to journalists at the headquarters of the ANEPC.
 
The Minister of Internal Affairs emphasised that “the judicial authorities will certainly pay due attention at the proper time, since five fires have started within very short spaces and have started separated by a few minutes.”
 
Meanwhile In a statement, the PJ stated that, with the collaboration of the National Guard Republic (GNR) of Castelo Branco, it arrested an “arsonist for the presumed practice of a forest fire crime” which occurred on Saturday “in the vicinity of the city” of Castelo Branco. This is about 50 kms from Vila de Rei.
 

UPDATE 1100 hrs 21st JULY

At present (1100 hrs) there are six fires in Castelo Branco, two under Resolution, three concluded and one Vila de Rei, active. A total of 1282 firefighters 386 vehicles and 14 helicopters/aircraft are deployed.
 
The fire in Vila de Rei (Castelo Branco), which also affected the municipality of Mação (Santarém) during the night, “has about 60% of its area dominated,” said Belo Costa, noting that this fire has a “very significant dimension “and the work of the operatives” is hampered by the type of terrain “where it burns.
 
Around 814 fire fighters, including nearly 100 GNR GIPS are fighting this fire supported by 250 vehicles and 12 aircraft and helicopters.
At the moment, there are no localities in danger, with only the 238 national road linking Mação to Vila de Rei being cut off, he said.
 
According to Belo Costa, the fire that started at Vila de Rei was about 25 kms from its origin to the most distant front, not having a “very significant width”.
Today, the operators are prepared “for a difficult day”, with high temperatures and with the wind intensifying from 10 o’clock, wanting to enter “in this period of greater meteorological adversity” with the great majority of the area of Vila fire of King dominated, it grew.
 
Meanwhile the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, today transmitted “all the solidarity to men and women” who are fighting the fires in the district of Castelo Branco and the affected populations.
 
In a note published on the website of the Presidency of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, he says that he is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the Government and the presidents of the municipal councils of the affected areas.

 

Previous update 2200 hrs 20th July

“Stopping the fire is impossible at this stage,” the Vice President of Vila de Rei, Paulo César told Lusa in a statement at 19:45.

António Louro ANEPC said that this is a front of fire of 8 kms, entered the municipality of Mação (Santarém district) in the zone of Azinhal, Cardigos and Vinha Velha.

Although the flames had “passed” through several villages, putting them “in danger”, Paulo César said he had no news of injuries or material damage (confirmed by ANEPC in discussion with Safe Communities Portugal).

According to the vice president, the “very strong” wind has been “the biggest adversary” of the field of operations, with the flames evolving in a pine and eucalyptus forest area.

By mid-afternoon, when the Bostelim river beach was evacuated, there were 160 people in the area, according to the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority.

The Armed Forces will send four track machines and 20 military personnel to support Civil Protection in the fight against the fires in the district of Castelo Branco

A fire at Serta Mosteiro de Sao Tago which started at 1615 hrs has has also been upgraded to a Major Incident due to its close proximity. At 2200 hrs 95 fire personnel and 28 vehicles were dealing with this fire bringing the total of 884 personnel and 273 vehicles fighting the 3 fires. All aircraft/helicopters have been withdrawn overnight.

ORIGINAL REPORT 2030 hrs

At present there are four active fires in Castelo Branco District. Two of these have been classified as “Significant Events” by the ANEPC.

One of these is at Fundada, is currently being fought by 374 fire fighters, 114 vehicles supported by 4 aircraft. The fire started in a mixed bush/forest area at 1450 hrs.

The EN 2 has been cut between Vila de Rei and Fundada. Reinforcements have been deployed from Portalegre, Santerem, Steubal and Lisbon.

The river beach of Bostelim, in Vila de Rei, Castelo Branco district, was evacuated as a precaution, according to Lusa. The deputy mayor of the Municipality of Vila de Rei, Paulo César, explained that the fact that several campers used this place could create a situation of panic in the possible need for more intensive operations in that place.

The fire of Vila de Rei, according to Paulo César, has two active fronts, one of which is progressing towards one of the Sertã fires.

The second major fires is at Serta, (the area much affected by fires in 2017). A total of 247 firefighters 71 vehicles and 5 aircraft are currently deployed.

In the fires four fire fighters have been injured as a result of a road accident..

 

The areas where the two fires broke out are relatively close to each other, since the village of Rolã, in the municipality of Sertã, is about six kilometers straight from Fundada, in Vila de Rei, a municipality located to the south and next to the Sertã.

 


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