Funchal fire–update Thursday

imageAs our photo from last night shows, and the headline on the Diario web site reads "Hell descended into Funchal," with dozens of people running, fleeing the flames in the parish of São Gonçalo.

The situation on the ground became so chaotic that the CDS-PP Madeira urged the regional government to solicit aid from the government in Lisbon.

Soon after came confirmation that a C-130 military aircraft will depart for Funchal with 83 men specialized in fighting forest fires.

It was also known that the governments of Portugal and Spain were to evaluate a possible cooperation in fighting the flames in the parish of São Gonçalo, by calling in fire brigades from the Canary Islands.

Although many refer to the ferocity of the flames which are believed  to reached several homes (watching it last night – it must have!) the regional secretary for Social Affairs for Madeira, speaking to reporters yesterday, denied that any homes had been destroyed and said he was unaware of the existence of any injuries following the fire that broke out on Wednesday in the area Palheiro region above Funchal (“comments” on last nights blog indicate that the are around the  golf club  was badly hit). The following is a time lapse video from 21.35 to 22.15 last night showing no homes being destroyed!

Funchal Madeira 18.7.12 21.35–22.15

Given the gravity of the situation the Minister of the Interior said it was impossible to quantify "some people were treated at Hospital do Funchal problems due to inhalation of smoke and panic attacks."

The coordinator of the Judicial Police in Funchal revealed that all the Criminal Investigation Department of Funchal Judiciary Police (PJ) is mobilized to establish the circumstances in which the fire occurred, originating in the Palheiro Ferreiro area of Funchal. "Right now, I can say is that the department is fully mobilized and we are investigating," said Ricardo Silva. The first thing he can do is start looking in the right place as the fire did not start there – again as our first photo last night clearly shows.

Due to the severity of the fire,  the Municipal Emergency Plan and the regional disaster plan were activated. According to the deputy mayor of Funchal, Bruno Pereira, the Municipal Emergency Plan was activated around 21:00 and  buses were summoned to transport people from that area to a canteen in Funchal and where those who were affected by the fire could stay the night "if necessary".

Madeira has been battered since Tuesday by several fires in different counties, with several corporations involved in fighting fires in the counties of Calheta, Ribeira Brava, Santa Cruz and Funchal. The fire in Funchal has taken the headlines from the one in Punto do Pargo which reading some reports could be quite serious. I will update this post if I find out any more.

Update 9.00am Thursday

Large fire reported in Santo da Serra in the Diario this morning. You can clearly see the column of smoke above Funchal (or is this yet another fire?). A source in Santa Cruz Fire Department revealed that the fire, in João Ferino, is "uncontrolled".


Health Centre and School evacuated in Camacha. To help protect the village of Camacha, Santa Cruz firefighters will now have the support of the peacekeepers of Câmara de Lobos. Jon & Debs have sent the following photograph from Casa Parsons in Gaula this morning, noting that it was in the region of Camacha across to Santo da Serra – certainly in the area of the Levada dos Tornos and Lombo Grande forest

Jon fire

The deputy mayor of Funchal, responsible for municipal Civil Protection, said the fire that broke out in the area of Palheiro Ferreiro last night is now "limited and controlled," confirming that burned two homes and two dozen homes are affected


Thanks again to Jon Parsons – the C130 specially adapted plane has arrived at the airport, whilst the Santo da Serra fire worsens

a fire herc1


Various stories emerging from different sources:

Firstly the Judicial Police dismissed this afternoon rumours that have been doing the rounds on social networks regarding the identification of cars and suspects involved in the outbreak of fires. Ricardo Silva, coordinator of the DIC-Madeira PJ, assured that the Diario that so far the investigations are still on-going and it had not, as yet, identified any suspects. Rumours that the PJ was looking for two black cars and their occupants began circulating this morning on Facebook.

Out at Ponto da Pargo, this afternoon some elderly residents were forced to flee homes threatened by flames. The village is looking at the the worst fires in living memory with several active fronts since the early hours of Tuesday. The flames continued to evolve throughout the afternoon to the east into neighbouring parish of Fajã da Ovelha.

In Camacha in the municipality of Santa Cruz, at least three homes have been consumed by flames in Rochão, locality where firefighters evacuated several homes. Later it was confirmed that the situation was calmer after 20 hours of fires but it is reported that there is now another problem in the area of ​​the riverfront and Nogueira.

Because of the fires the Protecção Civil has appealed to motorists not to use  the Via Rápida in order to facilitate the movement of firefighters.

In Calheta another fire was reported in Lombo do Salão close to several homes. Also in Calheta there are reports of another fire. The Volunteer Firefighters of Calheta have been sent to the scene.

Porto Moniz: There has been a  fire raging since yesterday in Achadas da Cruz, with flames threatening homes and forests. "The situation has become a lot more complicated" said Mayor of Porto Moniz, Walter Cooper, who, judging by the background noise noticeable through telephone contact with the Diario, was near a front fighting the flames. The wind was observed in the brief telephone call which had to shut down in a hurry. This fire is being fought by the Fire Department of St. Vincent and Porto Moniz.

33 thoughts on “Funchal fire–update Thursday”

  1. from dnoticias Major fire in Santo da Serra

    After a night marked by a little fires all over the island. This morning a fire broke out in Santo da Serra, in place of John scathing.

    Source of Santa Cruz Fire Department revealed that the fire is “uncontrolled”.

    When arriving DAILY reports that the fire is very close to residential property and the area’s residents are leaving the home. The fire is already affecting the Levada do Pico, past the Old Corral and mining at the site of John scathing.

  2. Santa Cruz Fire Station Sirens went off (again) at 09:12hrs – I assume in response to the Santo da Serra fire? There was LOTS of smoke and it appeared to be spreading, against the prevailing wind, Eastwards……the smoke amount/density appears to be much reduced now, hopefully contained?
    Wind speed less than yesterday? Temps on the way down, slightly? Hopefully a change in the hot windy airmass from Africa…..fingers crossed everyone.
    Brilliant “live” coverage and photos Admin – doing a grand job……I can’t imagine that NO houses/people have been damaged/destroyed. Is the RAM (Government) again hiding the truth about the extent of the disater as it DID DO during/after the floods?
    I’ll let you know if I see the C130 water plane at the Airport……….

  3. Thw wind appears to have picked up a little and is now more from the North East, bringing low lying/drifting smoke all across the hills, downwards and towards Funchal – I would say that the fire is still spreading Eastwards towards the centre of Santo da Serra…..
    We have just seen a procession og military vehicles (incl coaches/transport general) heading to the Airport….to meet the C130?

  4. C130 Herc just arrived……good timing I hope as the Santo da Serra fire is definately spreading/getting worse – much more smoke clearly visible above us now….photo(s) to Admin.

  5. We’ll still be there on Monday as scheduled. Despite rumours, it looks like Palheiro golf has survived (there’s a statement on their website). Airport looks to be running as normal. Madeirans needs their tourists, and we won’t desert you!

  6. Is anyone aware if flights are operating as normal today?
    My husband and my little girl are meant to come back to the UK today…
    Really hope everyone is ok! This is awful!!!

  7. Just drove from Machino to Canico. The fire is in Santa Cruz and has even crossed the highway. The highway is closets in the direction Funchal –> Airport at Santa Cruz. Traffic backed up as far back as Canico. This was 20 minutes ago.

  8. from dnoticias Post to rescue shipwrecked airport activated to receive homeless

    Facilities at the aid station next to the shipwreck Madeira Airport was activated to receive the homeless from the fire raging in Gaul and other parts of the county of Santa Cruz airport source told Lusa.

    According to the Vice President of Airports and Air Navigation Madeira (ANAM), Roberto Santa Clara, despite the thick cloud of smoke hovering over the city this afternoon, the movement at the airport “is normal, but was issued a warning that conditioning may be at any time. ”

    He added that, as a highway is closed to traffic, is “aware that some people are driving to the airport on foot.”

    Firefighters from the airport, located in the municipality of Santa Cruz, were also called to help fight this fire and this time “are two cars out, one of which placed at the gas station of Gaul,” said Roberto Santa Clara.

    A fire broke out early in the afternoon quickly spread in the mountains of Santa Cruz, leading to the withdrawal of dozens of people to the school from the city center.

    “Right now, the highway between the city of Porto Novo and Santa Cruz is closed,” he told Lusa in charge of Roads Madeira, Francisco Taboada.

    The official called on people not to proceed to Madeira Airport, noting that the traffic is too congested to Porto Novo and be diverted to the different outputs of Caniço.

    Another critical point is the road Camacha, Rochão in the area where “a team is removing trees and rocks because the rocks are heated and collapse, so the road is prohibited”.

    “These are the latest situation,” he said.

    The various fire brigades are involved in Madeira since Tuesday in fighting fires that broke out in different parts of the island, in the counties of Calheta, Ribeira Brava, Funchal, Santa Cruz and Porto Moniz.

    A statement from the Madeira Regional Government announced at 15:20 that time indicates that regional roads were closed 101, the section between the Ponta do Pargo and the junction with Regional Road 105 (Santa), and 105, the section between Encumeada and Paul da Serra.

    The movement was contingent on regional roads 102 (between the junction with Highway 206, in calm waters, and the junction with 202 in Four Roads) and 209, the section between the business park and Canhas of Paul da Serra.

  9. The airport seems to be working OK at the moment according to Arrivals and Departures on their web site – I have to make two trips in that direction tonight! Does anybody know if the Rapida is clear from Funchal as far as Garajau?

  10. We just drived from the east (machico) to Funchal. This was not a problem. You can see the fire on the mountains. This morning we saw the fire directly on the Via Rapida, but at 5 pm we didn’t had problems.

  11. from dnoticias Fires have already made 42 victims

    Now increased to 42 the number of people assisted in the emergency department of Hospital Dr. Nelio Mendonca as a result of the fires raging across the wood since Wednesday.

    Today, between nine and 18 hours entered the hospital 20 wounded, most of which have eye problems and respiratory infections, caused by prolonged exposure to smoke.

    “None of the victims inspires care, and no one was hospitalized because of injuries,” said this afternoon the Director of Emergency Services, Pedro Ramos, during a press conference, urging people to drink plenty of fluids and avoid exposure to the most smoke.

    Since Wednesday that 42 people have been treated in hospital, only three remain hospitalized. “These are elderly people whose assets were hit by fire, then stay here,” said Pedro Ramos, adding that they should be discharged tomorrow

  12. Thanks Judith – the Rapida was possibly quieter than usual. Small fire alongside at Garajau but I can’t see how this is really associated with the main outbreak. Will know a little more when we meet the last flight in tonight (if it gets here) – the people I met earlier off a flight from Germany which landed around 4.00pm said that the view as they arrived and the pilot skirted the plumes of smoke were amazing!

  13. Gabriel – as I look out over Funchal tonight (in both directions) there is nothing to report. All quiet thankfully. We have to drive out to the airport later so will report back if we see anything. The two main concerns would still seem to be the Santa do Serra and Ponto da Pargo outbreaks.

    Elaine – Jon and Debs had to temporarily retreat to Santa Cruz along with other residents of their locality in Gaula – not so much due to the threat of the fires as I understand it – the smoke from Santo da Serra was overwhelming and breathing difficult in the area. Any excuse for a beer! No doubt Jon will be back “on-line” shortly with an update.

  14. from dnoticias Camacha and Cruz are the focus of most “concerned” authorities

    The fires in the area of ​​Camacha (Santa Cruz) and (Porto Moniz) are Achadas da Cruz the “most concern” regional authorities, told Lusa the head of Civil Protection.

    “Fortunately, this time the situation improved significantly,” said Luis Neri, making a progress of the fires that burn on the island since Tuesday.

    This official said that the fire in the Faja of the Sheep, in the municipality of Calheta, which, on Wednesday, led to the evacuation of dozens of people, “is no longer a concern.”

    However, he said, “has worsened the fire Found in the Cross and the means had to be replaced” in the area.

    “We remain in Gaula, county of Santa Cruz, and the problem with the neighborhood’s social Nogueira, in the parish of Camacha is not controlled,” said Luis Neri.

    The official said that despite this situation, that agglomeration “was not evacuated, but people are paying attention.”

    The President of the Regional Service of Civil Protection Madeira also informed that focuses on Careers and Paradise Valley are at the moment “situations resolved.”

    “There are situations to be resolved in the district of Funchal after the moments experienced during the night from Wednesday to Thursday,” he said.

    The officer admitted that, although you can not even count the total number of homeless in the wake of the fires, which since Tuesday afflict many parts of the island for more than a hundred people in the pavilion Gimnodesportivo Machico and the Garrison Regiment Funchal.

    The fires devastated especially the counties of Calheta, Ribeira Brava, Funchal, Santa Cruz and Porto Moniz, being involved, according to information released by the President of the Regional Government in the fight 250 men and 50 vehicles.

    A contingent of more than 80 men sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs has arrived in the early afternoon to Madeira to support the firefighters in the region, and the owner of this folder from the Government of the Republic, Miguel Macedo, made a visit to Madeira to see the extent situation, moving the most critical points.

    Alberto Joao Jardim also said the fire destroyed “at least 15 homes,” is already available to 50 dwellings for relocation of families, and still can not count the number of people with this type of need.

    In turn, the director of the hospital emergency ward of Funchal, Pedro Ramos, announced they were assisted more than four dozen people in that unit with problems related to smoke inhalation, eye of court cases and orthopedic.

    Even now, the Regional Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources, Manuel Antonio Correia, has announced that support will be available for farmers affected by the fires with 95% at no cost, “as has happened on February 20.”

    Hundreds of people displaced, tens of houses destroyed or partially destroyed by fire, vehicles, land and crops destroyed by the flames are the picture of many areas of Madeira as a result of these fires.

    The mayor of Funchal, Miguel Albuquerque, said that only the fire which broke out late on Thursday in the area Palheiro Ferreiro and Choupana consumed an estimated area of ​​28.7 hectares.

  15. from dnoticias Camacha: calm situation in the Levada da Serra popular but remain alert

    Residents of Site d’Besides couples, especially those living in the area near the Levada da Serra which crosses the parish of Camacha remain on alert, but the fires seem to control.

    After a long wait for the intervention of firefighters, assisted by police, with reinforcements of tanks of water, it was possible to catch the force of the flames that threatened to climb the Levada da Serra area towards the various residences. The fire is still visible and threatening the other hand, less populated, but it seems controlled. However, if the wind intensifies everything can get back into shape threatening.

  16. from todays….dnoticias Fires continue to cultivate in the counties of Santa Cruz, Porto Moniz and Calheta

    The slight decrease in temperature during the night did not help reverse the intensity of the fire in the county of Santa Cruz.

    At a meeting this morning, with firefighters from the county, the TSF knew that remain active outbreaks of fire. They say the fire department of Santa Cruz that the most troubling situations occur by this time the site of Morena, where the fire continues to threaten homes and in the center of Camacha.

    But there are also fires in Walnut, calm waters, Spine, Hall and Couples Apart from other sites that county, which has mobilized almost all herds in the region.

    In the north of the island, more precisely in the municipality of Porto Moniz, firefighters are also involved in fighting the flames that burn in since yesterday Found the Cross. It is a bush fire that also was not checked this morning.

    A similar situation (fire bush) live in the Faja of the Sheep, the municipality of Calheta, confirmed the Fire Chief, John Joy.

  17. Responding to “Finally, as a general comment, I have to record that whoever you talk to on the island today they are convinced that this whole series of events are deliberate arson.”

    We are not convinced about this ‘arson’ story. Encountering the tourguide who was building a fire in Fanal, in spite of the extreme weather conditions with permission, let us believe there is something structural wrong with government policy here leading to very dangerous situations for environment, inhabitants and tourists. Yes, one should investigate arson when possible, but it’s also very necessary to review your policies. These fires could have been prevented!

  18. I hope so this will be a ” souvenir ” in the shortest time… Again and again all my love to this wonderfull island and lovely people.

    Chris (B)

  19. SO SO Sad!! We come again to Santa Cruz with the family on 10th August to make our holiday again. The people of Madeira do respond well to such events, I do remember the recent floods. But the peoples did a wonderful job in making things right for us Tourist. Thank You Madeira

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