A long way from us – but we’re getting the smoke

Forest fires have cut off a town of 2,000 people in Portugal, as firefighters struggle to control two large blazes in the centre of the country.

“It’s impossible to leave or to enter Mação because of the flames and the smoke,” Vasco Estrela, mayor of Mação, told Lusa news agency.

The blaze erupted on Tuesday evening, and by Thursday morning it had surrounded the town. “It is continuing unabated,” he said.

This is all a couple of hundred miles north of here. But we’re getting he smoke. The whole area from Albufeira to Faro was covered in smoke yesterday. The winds are just blowing it all down here.

We do get our own fires down here, obviously, but we tend not to have the forests, so we get scrub fires.

It’s also worth pointing out something else. This isn’t so much a product of the current heat. It’s, as summer fires usually are, a product of a wet winter. The land around here always dries out in the summer. We usually don’t see rain for 7 or 8 months, not in any quantity at least. So, all the vegetation does dry out, every year. A wet winter means more winter growth, thus more vegetation to dry out when the summer comes.

The same is true in California, climactically very similar. It’s a wet winter with lots of growth that is the warning sign for a bad summer fire season.

3 thoughts on “A long way from us – but we’re getting the smoke”

  1. On a tangent- I didn’t realise that Steve Albini was an expert on forest fires, what with his rocket scientist father having invented the branch of science that covers this stuff.

    It’s an unlikely crossover between my record collection and the Worstall blog, but it’s there.

  2. In 2010, I encountered smoke in Cortez, CO, from a fire in Flagstaff, AZ, about 230 miles away. The Shultz Fire, which I photographed from Grand Canyon NP, 55 miles away. The fire had run me out of Wupatki National Monument.

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