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Lost everything in Portugal forest fires  RSS feed

 
Andreas Schäfer
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Dear Permies friends,

most of you will have seen the news about the latest forest fires in central Portugal. It was a absolute horror.

Sunday morning I woke up at six to continue building my tiny wooden house. Rain was forecasted, so I had to prepare for that. The whole day I was working, and in the evening I sat down for some internet. At around 8pm the internet connection was lost. I went for a walk upon the hill, to take a look at the fires that started that afternoon. The whole afternoon the sun was red because of the smoke in the sky. So I went up on the hill, and what I saw was a bit scary. Fires raging all over the Serra da Estrella mountains, multiple fires in a row. But the fires where also in the west, a lot of fires.. But the wind came from the south, and there I didnt see fires, so I assumed to be save. I was very tired because of the work I did, and went to bed at around ten. One hour later, my neighbour woke me up and saved my life. I just had time to put on a trousers and some shoes, and took my wallet with me. I didnt think about saving papers, laptop, phone, nothing.. We went to the village, there we could find shelter near the church, surrounded by stone buildings. The fire came fast, the wind was strong. In a short time the valley was on fire, and the explosion of my gas bottle made sure nothing is left of my temporary house, and new builded one.

I went back in the middle of the night to see the damage. First the fires where still too hot, and I had to go back to the village. One hour later I managed to get to my quinta. Most of the centuries old olive trees were still burning. I tried to save the tries with some buckets of water, but I guess most of them will die.

I tried to sleep a few hours between the dieing fires, smoke and ashes, but I couldnt. I went to collect my dead chickens for the compost, and went away, hichhiking to Ciombra to escape the mess.

Now, a few days later I start to think about the future. I think I will go back and rebuild everything. It wont be easy, because I dont even have enough money to replace everything I lost.. But I think things will be OK, so many people are willing to help, its heartwarming. People started to collect clothes, shoes, things to cook, food, and so on, to help the victims of this terrible fires. The foreign alternative lifestyle community of central Portugal lost a lot, because its the foreigners who live on the fields, the Portuguese prefer to stick together in the villages. I think this all will lead to a much more connected community, something many of us here were already hoping for. We all went through the same..
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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My heart goes out to you Andreas. 

I was just south of the fires and although I could see them in the distance the strong winds meant I couldn't even smell the smoke.  I think three things worked together to make them so bad that day.

First, the wind, which was exceptionally strong, the tail of hurricane Ophelia.

Second, it was the weekend.  It has been blindingly obvious to us that the arsonists go out on weekend fire-lighting sprees.

Thirdly, the end of the fire season was officially extended to the 15th October this year, and many people had been waiting for their annual rounds of setting fire to the debris on their farms.  It seems that no-one waited for rain, they all went out and just lit the fires anyway on the day that it became legal.

All that, combined with the extreme drought this year and the eucalyptus monocultures that are so common here, it was a disaster waiting to happen, and I fear more will follow in the years to come. 

Huge changes have to take place here to stop these fires.  I only hope you can recover enough to help lead the way. 
 
Roberto pokachinni
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My heart goes out to you Andreas. 
  Mine too.  I had a friend who lost his farm to the largest forest fire season that my region has ever faced.  He had the fortune to be working out of town, and so had some of his belongings with him at his rental.  I have had a home burn down in 1998, and I definitely feel some of the sense of loss.  You will get through it.  Your strength and resolve at this time will be a great healing in your community.  Peace to you.
 
Scott Foster
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So sorry to hear it! I wish you good luck with the re-build.
 
Peter Shield
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Location: Maisons, Aude, France
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Sorry to hear your news. This year in Southern Europe has been hard. Don't give up on the olive trees. Prune them back hard and see what happens.

Our neighbours had a similar experience last year when 1,200 hectares of land on the other side of our mountain went up in fire. We organised a series of working days to help them out and were amazed at the level of support, both from the alternative community and from locals, the local Mayor, usually a pig headed mule of a man, made all sorts of municipal equipment available. We had a couple of nights of music and food to raise a bit of money, local wine makers gave wine, the hunters gave a deer and a pig to roast, their fellow stand holders in the markets gave vegetables and cheese in such quantities that we had to give some away at the end of the evenings.

They are now back on their feet and growing again.

Reach out to local friends, our experience is that people want to help if you give them solid tasks to do.


All the best

Pete
 
Andreas Schäfer
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Thank you guys for your support!

Yesterday I heard the major of my village wants a list with items that got lost in the fire, he want to help with replacing! So it looks like I don't have to buy more wood to rebuild the house. My neighbour got an offer from a restaurant owner, he can go there daily for free lunch and dinner. Its really amazing how everyone wants to help!

A Dutch newspaper covered a story about my situation.

https://www.ad.nl/binnenland/nederlander-ontsnapte-dankzij-buurman-aan-portugese-vlammenzee~a55df576/
 
Jarret Hynd
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Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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That is very sad news to hear, and I'm glad things didn't turn out worse. (considering how you worded your neighbour's actions)

At least everyone is pulling together in this time. Yesterday, we also had a large prairie fire 120km away from my place which did a lot of damage - some ranchers lost their entire herds. I can't imagine what it would it would be like with 100kph winds after a summer with very little rain, the fire would be moving at unimaginable speeds...even though this didn't effect me directly, it still got me thinking about different things and if the wind decided to go a different direction, it could have easily been right in my area.

There are plenty of donations and help being offered here aswell, so it's nice to know that generosity and compassion can be found all over.

Andreas Schäfer wrote: I think this all will lead to a much more connected community, something many of us here were already hoping for. We all went through the same..


That is true, it puts real priorities into perspective.

Sending good thoughts your way.
 
Linda Secker
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So sad to hear Andreas.... good that all the local community will pull together to help everyone out, but if there is anything you need in the future that we might be able to provide, just shout
 
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