What do you do when somebody shouts up at your bedroom window at six-thirty in the morning the word:
… when you race out of the front gates and are faced with a wall of fire?
You don’t panic, that’s what. You work. Either you help to fight the fire with all your might or you drench everything around your house that your hose pipe will reach.
And you pray. Man, you pray.
(Photographs curtesy of neighbour Leticia Sobral, whose father Illidio allerted us):
I frantically remove all flammable clutter from the courtyard – mats, furniture, you name it. I begin to soak the rooves and surrounding parched land until mains water peters out.
(Photographs curtesy of Martin Vickers):
Water pressure is suddenly really high but it’s dirty water. We must have been connected up to some kind of hydrant. I recommence soaking the place but it’s so dry and hot it’s almost pointless. All roads in and out have apparently been closed.
The car is reluctantly got out and parked outside ready for evacuation. Over 250 firefighters are now engaged in this, the biggest fire in the country currently listed online.
News arrives that another village on the other side is now on fire. We are now surrounded on three sides. There is only one side left and wind is threatening to take the worst outbreak that way. One no longer knows which way to pray for the wind to go.
And so it went on through the evening until it appeared to have been properly calmed by dusk, just in the nick of time. Nobody knew if we would be provided with ‘Vigilancia’ throughout the night as things sizzled and smouldered in the woods.
All the men from the village and their tractors with trailors laden with water tanks, hoses and pumps went out driving around the woods until late into the evening.
I slept in just a T shirt with my jeans and shoes next to the bed. I slept better than I thought I would. I didn’t wake until 3.45am. As I opened the window I immediately smelt that the air was cleaner out than in. As I leant out and looked up I saw stars and my heart jumped for joy.
There were no orange glimmers in the darkness as far as I could see. A pickup truck with fire-fighting equipment free-wheeled silently down through the village. I went back to bed with a feeling of relief. A little trepidation still, but mainly relief.
By the grace of God nobody was hurt and there wasn’t even any house damage. Just forest.
I’m reticent about putting this last photo on. But then this whole blog is called Life On Portuguese Soil, hey?:
Also Curtesy of Leticia: