“It looked like hell with fire rushing towards the village”: The struggle of residents against the flames in Vila Real – Portugal


It was 7:30 am on Sunday, August 21, when the residents of Sarmadã, in Vila Real, gave the alert for a fire in the Alvão mountain range. The already high flames advanced rapidly towards that village and Vilarinho de Sarmadã. “It felt like hell. It lit up in several places at the same time. We could see the fire running towards the village and the firefighters could do little”, he recalls to the CM Dália da Eira, resident of Sarmadan.In the morning, the inhabitants still went to mass, but at lunchtime the fire was advancing mercilessly towards the villages. “He looked like the devil, he arrived at the houses and made a tunnel in the road to pass to the other side. It was terrible”, describes Manuel Pereira. The GNR sought to remove the population from the two villages most at risk. A restaurant has been evacuated. Many customers did not finish their meal and left without paying. Next to the houses, the residents tried everything to defend the dwellings. “There were no firefighters, there was no one and it was me with my wife and son who put out the flames next to our house”, says Eurico Moura. “My son was defending his house, then he came to help me save the hay store. I had to release the animals or they would all die charred. It was very difficult and I was very afraid”, adds Margarida Santos.In the village of Cravelas, in four days the flames threatened the village three times. “We live in shock, we don’t sleep. We just wanted a little peace, because then we can’t take it”, said one of the residents, as the fire raged nearby. It took the intervention of firefighters to put out the fire. The fire did not end until four days later. It consumed an area of ​​more than six thousand hectares. During the fight, firefighters found several artifacts that indicate the existence of a criminal hand.

Rui Santos, mayor of Vila Real

CM – Was this the worst fire in recent years?
Rui Santos – The fire represents a terrible damage to the Alvão Natural Park, to our landscape, to our nature. Despite the 6,000 hectares burned, fortunately, human victims and damage to homes were avoided, but in terms of agriculture and animal production there were significant losses.– Has the prevention failed?
– The current conditions of drought and high temperatures, in a hotter than usual summer, associated with atrocious and inexplicable criminal acts, potentiate serious forest fires. Even with the work that our municipality develops in terms of prevention, if any criminal decides to start a fire, it can easily reach large dimensions.

“Now we have no pasture for the animals to eat, everything is burned”
“Now we don’t have pasture for the animals. I don’t even have a place for them to be and that’s why they run wild, but they don’t have anything to eat because it’s all burned”, he tells the Morning mail Margarida Santos, a resident of Vilarinho de Sarmadã, who “for two minutes” managed to save the hay she had stored. “We were surrounded by fire, we had nowhere to escape. Those were moments I will never forget”, laments Margarida, who had her son help to protect the cattle from the flames.“There is no question of a criminal hand”
“There is no doubt that it was a criminal hand”, says Orlando Matos, commander of the Cruz Branca Fire Department in Vila Real. “When we were fighting one front, another one broke out in another place”, he maintains. The PJ is investigating. firefighters were surrounded on the road
A team of firefighters was surrounded by fire as it climbed the Alvão mountain range towards the village of Cravela, where flames threatened several houses. At that point, the flames crossed the road.

Source: Correio da Manhã by www.cmjornal.pt.

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