News And Events | 
Forest fire destroyed thousands of hectares at Caldeirão’s Sierra
26 July 2012

Last week the Sierra of Caldeirão was struck by a massive forest fire that destroyed 26,442 hectares… thus loosing a considerable biodiversity typical of the area. Those were hard days for us all, specially for the local populations of this beautiful sierra. The fire started at Catraia (Cahopo – Tavira) on July 18 and only after three days of fire fighting, the 1,100 professionals in the field with the help of local inhabitants were able to control the fire that crossed several villages, destroying everything at its passage. In the project’s intervention area, we have lost one of the best areas of the Mediterranean woodland of the sierra, affecting several communities – Castelão, Cabeça do Velho, Parizes, Montes Novos, Javali, Várzea do Velho, Cova da Muda and Pêro de Amigos. Dozens of houses were destroyed, one hundred people lost their goods, thousands of hectares of Mediterranean landscape burned and several species lost their homes.

The Sierra of Caldeirão became poorer, the population of Caldeirão became poorer, all of us became poorer. We can now only evaluate the damage and wait for nature to recover, which will take its time…

* The fire started at 2pm on July 18 at Catraia (Cachopo – Tavira) and remained out of control until July 21. The difficult and long firefighting mobilized 1,100 professionals, 13 aircrafts and more that two hundred vehicles (in Jornal Público)
* Help was requested to firefighters from all over the country – Faro, Beja, Évora, Lisboa, Setúbal, Aveiro, Leiria and Porto (source: National Authority for Civil Defense)
* On July 26, after a week since the fire started, there were still people on the field consolidating the extinction of the fire (source: National Authority for Civil Defense)
* The damages caused directly to the inhabitants of Caldeirão’s Sierra surpass € 25 million (in Sul Informação)
* 60 families (more than 100 people) were directly affected by the fire (in Sul Informação)
* The fire reached houses, destroying 10 totally and 15 partially, and annexes (55), destroying those families’ annual supplies and killing their livestock (in Sul Informação)
* At São Brás de Alportel, the area of sierra was almost completely lost (7,162 hectares out of 15 thousand burned, corresponding to 46% of the county’s total area); at Tavira, more than 19 thousand hectares burned, corresponding to more than 30% of the council’s area (in Sul Informação)
* About 85% of Algarve’s forest region has burned completely since 2003 (source: Association Almargem)
* The causes of this massive fire are under investigation …

Area affected by the fire

The fire destroyed 26,442 hectares (the largest brown area in the map)

Tavira and Brás de Alportel were the counties affected

Part of Caldeirão pSCI – Natura 2000 network (green areas in the map) – was completely destroyed by the fire (Castelão, Cabeça do Velho, Parizes, Montes Novos, Javali, Várzea do Velho, Cova da Muda and Pêro de Amigos)

Source: European Forest Fire Information System

Considering the time nature will take to recover what was lost in so few days, many locals will never see the sierra again the way they used to know it… Hoping that with the help of everyone the recovery will be quicker, we leave you with some photos of the Sierra of Caldeirão before its destruction by the fire…