Portugal – forest fire at Pedrógão Grande

Portugal has announced 3 days of mourning for the 62 dead, so far, in the forest fire in the Pedrógão Grande region, which broke out on Saturday and continues to blaze at this time.

The photo below comes from the N2 atop the Barragem do Cabril dam, and this gives you an idea of the terrain and the woodland that the firefighters, the bombeiros, are facing.

This dam and river happen to be the junction of Leiria District and Castelo Branco District, why is why photos from the major news sources show bombeiros from both teams.

The grey structure in the background is the modern road, the IC8. Many of the main stream pictures come from the IC8.

The next photo is the Ponte Filipina. It was built around 1607-1610 in order to replace an old wooden Roman structure. It connects Pedrógão Grande to the north with Pedógão Pequeno to the south. It was intended for foot and horse traffic only, and the approach road was built in 1860. When the Cabril Dam and the N2 were built it became redundant and fell into disuse.

The enormous concrete structure behind is one of the supporting pillars of the IC8, as it crosses the valley.

In the next graphic, Pedrógão Grande is marked in red. The squiggle to the right is the river as it approaches the Cabril dam.

Above, to the west is Coimbra, the location of the INML laboratory that carries out forensic testing for the Polícia Judiciária.

Slightly south and to the west is Leiria. While slightly south and to the east is Castelo Branco. These are the two regions trying to fight the fire.

I have included Lisbon, for the simple reason that I know where to point to it on a Portuguese map. Close by, I know we have visited Évora, which I believe is a world heritage site. I think we have visited Estremoz and Elvas, but I would need to check.

The final location you might wish to note is Fátima, just south east of Leiria. Fátima is in an adjacent region of Portugal, called Santarém.

Within Santarém in another place that interests me. It is called Mação. Whether it has anything to do with the former Portuguese colony of Mação in China, I know not at this point.

Luz – Noite de Bombeiros

One would think that on a day when the Sunday Mirror labels you as a sicko, there really wouldn’t be anything that comes close the same day, but the Sunday Mirror article got beaten into a cocked hat by the Noite de Bombeiros.

Bombeiros are the people who run two branches of services in Portugal. The first is they are fire fighters, and recent news in the Algarve has seen a major deployment. The weather remains hot and more importantly bone-dry, so until we get some autumn rain, the countryside will remain like tinder.

The second service run by the bombeiros is the ambulance service, where they work as paramedics. This is the bit that is relevant to my story, so please let me give you the background to this Noite de Bombeiros.

It started around a fortnight ago when my better half complained of serious back pain. Enquiries solicited the fact that there had been much lifting of the little one, so this was put down to one of those things that would pass.

The problem is it didn’t. It got worse. A complication was that a virus set in, meaning that eating anything was out, due to the nausea the meal induced. And there was a long period of doing little other than lying in bed or sitting in front of a PC.

A doctor was consulted. The medication prescribed was supposed to be eaten on a full stomach, so there was a bit of an issue with that.

Eventually, the nausea forced a visit to LuzDoc, who looked at the patient and promptly whacked in a saline drip (for extreme dehydration) and an antibiotic drip. After this, for a little while, it looked like things were getting better, except they never really seemed to get to the stage of feeling good.

So we had a CAT scan done. That has still to be evaluated by an expert, but the medical person looking at it quickly noticed a couple of issues. The first is two gallstones, and these explain bouts of acid reflux. The second was that a lot of titanium surrounding the spine was remarked on. When were these supports put in? 2010 was the answer. Really, enquired the medical bod? The back expert will not be able to evaluate the CAT scan for another 10 days or so, therefore the plan was to see this period out and go with the expert,

However, this evening, my beloved returned from a very sedate day out, where the most strenuous activity was sitting quietly in a comfortable dining chair with a decent back support. And at this point, the back decided it was having none of it. Walking was agony. Sitting down was agony. Lying down was agony.

As it so happened, we had also run out of any painkillers that would make any sort of impact on the pain.

So, we were faced with a simple choice. Haul in some painkillers from family or friends, or call in the bombeiros. We hacked this over for a minute or so, and we concluded that the choice was between the bombeiros tonight or the bombeiros tomorrow, so we dialled 112 tonight.

Much to the chagrin of my beloved, the bombeiros turned up in a massive ambulance with all the lights flashing. Could Casualty have made it more impressive? I think not.

The bombeiros conducted an extended interview, all in English, and performed some basic but necessary checks on the patient. Then a wheelchair was brought out, the patient was ensconced in the ambulance, and off they drove to Lagos hospital. Roughly an hour ago.

Should anyone from the Sunday Mirror be reading this, your approach was the cheapest of the cheap. Fortunately for us, we have better fare. Tonight we had the Noite de Bombeiros.