Well no, we’re not in Bavaria, but sadly it’s been a Black Forest day in Portugal for us. Remember the news items in June and October 2017 that told us about these massive forest fires in Portugal and Spain that were fanned by hurricane winds and which killed more 100 people – 45 of them trapped in cars on a highway no rescuers could get to?
No you probably don’t – just more McNews on MSM that washes over and is soon forgotten. Well this reminds me of when we rode into District 9 of New Orleans 8 months after Hurricane Katrina – the devastation shocks you to the core, although it’s still impossible to imagine being there.
The phenomenon of the “fire devil” – a wildfire fanned by a tornado – which cause these infernos to race along the ridge tops and resulted in some of the villages deep down in the ravines escaping the worst of the blaze, was captured in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OpShURly5s
These fires which took out much of the north of Portugal and parts of Spain just covered areas in total equivalent to half the Waikato and the combo of a temperature-breaking summer, thousands of acres planted in fast-growing but combustible eucalypt plantations, and a high percentage of absentee owner land that has no risk management control of scrub.
For us riding through the area, the memory will be of greenshoots of life coming back but an eerie feeling of the tragedy that engulfed so many over such a wide area just last year. The villages we pass through have a ghostly feel in the fires’ aftermath.