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Posted by portugalpress on August 07, 2018

It’s time for an urgent meeting with interior minister Eduardo Cabrita, after the country’s largest blaze has raged for five terrifying days.

Representatives of the association of professional firefighters say they want to know how, “with so many means of combat being made available”, fires can last this long.

Patience with coordinating authorities is running out.

Indeed firefighters’ association boss Fernando Curto claims there is “total disorganisation” between the various forces at play, with “no one understanding” one another.

Monchique has been classified as a major fire risk for months. There seems no reason for the situation to have careered so calamitously out of control, he told Rádio Renascença.

Criticism of the way this monster blaze is being dealt with is coming in from all sides now.

Locals are complaining of ‘strong arm tactics’ used in evacuations. Some people have been handcuffed in order to “get them out of harm’s way” - others are being stopped from returning to properties even when the flames have passed.

The Resident has been told of one man who THREE TIMES managed to elude police who had forced him to leave his farm who is quite certain that if he hadn’t constantly managed to return to water his house and land yesterday - and that of his Dutch neighbour - neither would be standing this morning.

A lot more on this score will emerge over the next few days, but for now professional firefighters are letting it be known that they are not satisfied.

“The reorganisation of combat that the government implemented and prevention measures must be evaluated because we are seeing a fire on the Monchique hill range that involves more than 1,000 men, 200 vehicles and 13 planes and helicopters, as well as a considerable number of land-clearing heavy machinery… and things are still not under control”, said Curto.

Within hours of this message being picked up by national media, Eduardo Cabrita was giving a statement to the press, stressing that combat coordination has been "notable" and that considering the "adverse weather conditions" now is not the time to "make evaluations".

Efforts must continue, he said, stressing that air support is being 'beefed up' from 13 planes and helicopters to 17, including heavy-duty Kamovs and Candairs.

The Civil Protection command, headed up for the last five days by Vaz Pinto, is being handed over to national coordinators - and this is now the 'hot news'.

The wind is still blowing, but temperatures are down and humidity is up.

Today could be decisive in this fight, was Cabrita's overall message, though it was clear to see he did not welcome press inquiries over the time it has taken to bring this monster under control.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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