This region of Europe, as we well know, is prone to devastating, catastrophic and terrifying wildfires. Last evening, about 1800, we were woken from our late afternoon siesta, to shouts of “Gather all the farm buckets. Now”. Soon the knowledge spread, like wildfire, if you like, through the farm that an uncontrolled fire was playing its course 8 km away close to the town of Odiáxere. The tension meant we quickly reacted to the situation and contingency plans were put in place as the TV reported the efforts of the Bombeiros to manage the situation and protect the nearest town.
Tim’s, the gorgeous birthday boy, party was briefly interrupted with a collective consciousness that we were perhaps too close for comfort. Water was readied, blankets assembled and reassurance were shared as the primary instincts kicked in. Fight or flight. But soon the music started again as people assembled around the bar. “Ring of Fire”, “Light My Fire” and “Hellfire” being the first of many fire inspired songs hit the blue-tooth speaker. Confidence returned and the party continued – and a cracking party it is too.
The question to what would we do when threatened with a disaster situation was answered. We would organize to the best of our abilities and assemble the resources we had – the most important for us being the cars and vans on site for a rapid escape – and then we continued as we did before. The rolling news and knowledge of the local environment inspired us that we would unlikely be affected by this particular outbreak. Phew!
But all of us realize the real danger and potential horror of infernos in this part of the world. What if anything can be done to limit the harm of forest fires? First people should not start them. They should be extra vigilant, watch those cigarette butts. Contact emergency services on 117, quickly. Gather together and use local knowledge and news to formulate a plan. As far as possible remain calm and reasonable, the brain is telling you all kinds of immediate things you should be doing, most of it wrong – some of it extremely relevant.
On a broader note it really is quite amazing that today, in this technologically advanced age where Health & Safety is supposed to be primary concern, we should still be prone to uncontrolled bush fire. Sure shit happens (although hopefully not to us) and natural disasters are inevitable in this universe, and living in a warm/hot region means one should be acutely aware of the potential dangers. This BBC article seeks to explain why Portugal has its own unique reasons. Indeed the widespread planting of the profitable and highly flammable eucalyptus tree certainly doesn’t help and neither does the flying tipping of waste packaging and products of obsolescence. But then the frankly psychopathic and inherently self-annihilating search for profit has never really concerned itself with the very real devastation of environmental destruction, it can always turn a profit on the embers, until even they are ground to dust. But we too play our part in this insane game.
– Disposable Harry