This is our view right now. A few ridges over and blowing away from us for now. It’s a familiar skyline in Portugal over summer as this heavily forested half of the country seems to explode just at the mention of a spark. Pines and young eucalyptus plantation covered mountain sides, strong winds from the Atlantic or off the high plans of central Spain, a wet winter and bone dry summer make for a volatile mix.
The year before last 9 Bombeiros (firefighters) lost their lives trying to stop Portugal from burning. I’m not sure it makes it any better to die for your country if you’re being paid, but it’s a sobering thought that the Bombeiros are volunteers. They are known as the heroes of Portugal and virtually every town features a large and extravagant memorial to them and an even larger fire station packed with huge 4×4 trucks.
With large Bombeiros memorials on roundabouts, after a while you notice the absence of war memorials. If there is a war memorial, you might find the statue of a soldier with his rifle bent or the bayonet broken off. I presume this was a reaction of disgust against the Portuguese African colonial wars and part of the virtually bloodless coup by returning soldiers against the dictatorship in 1974. A military coup, a collapse of empire, followed by an attempted counter coup, followed by democracy and all in roughly two years. Sounds unbelievable doesn’t it?!
The fire we can see today is just near the the friendly people who made our doors and kitchen. It also brings it home when we check the Incêndios Florestais (forest fires) website and we know there are 87 volunteer firefighters and 26 vehicles fighting that fire.
Epilogue. 199 firefighters, 58 vehicles and fire now “dominado”.