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Rain and wind caused falls and floods this morning in Alto Minho

The eucalyptus roof that today covers the four Montcio villages most affected by the October 2017 fires ignited memories of the days when the "devil was at liberty" in the Alto Minho municipality.

The flame began already on the night of October 14, 2017 began to fall. It broke out in the neighboring parishes of the Long Valley and Merouf. When he arrived in the village of Bela, he crossed the river Minho and reached Galicia. The blaze was extinguished on the 16th, but left a mark of destruction in several of Monjio's 24 parishes in the Viana to Castello district.

The worst hits were Long Valley, Meroufeh, Barbate and Bella.

“It was at first glance. The speed was like that, about 30 to 40 kilometers per hour. It burned more through the air than on the floor. I thought it would round up the world, we wouldn't be saved, "Bella parish council chairwoman Lucas said, who saw 95% of her village burned by fire.

Two years later, Luis Kuna said he was "frustrated and helpless" to see nearly 500 village residents, mostly elderly, "completely frightened" by the "eucalyptus invasion".

"So far there has been no forest management intervention. Where native trees existed at the time, the eucalyptus trees multiplied. Eucalyptus trees are everywhere, even near apartments, "he complained, fearing the threat of a" new tragedy ".

Without resources to "fight" with vision, Luis Kuna noted that "if the terror comes back" in one to two years, "it will be much worse than in 2017".

"The parish has no forest, there is a blanket of eucalyptus. Owners cannot afford to clear land. I have been warned several times, but the monsoon chamber also has no means to act, "he complained.

In Barbeita, the same lawsuit. The mayor, Jonjo Susa, explained that "private individuals have done nothing" about the land burned two years ago by fire, which is now covered by "thousands and thousands of eucalyptus", "the right to a great fire".

"Eucalyptus trees were born in such a way that today the parish is affected by eucalyptus. It's worse than before the 2017 fires. It's huge. I don't know how many were born, "he said.

The fear that the "end of the world" will torment the village reminds him again of the worst day in his life.

"I will never forget the feeling of putting my wife, daughter and grandchildren in the basement of the house and leaving with his brother-in-law and friends to try and catch the lazy devil. Monster that devoured everything that passed. We were at his mercy, surrounded by fire on all sides. But we survived, "he said.

Two years ago, Junta de Merufe president Mercio Alves joined the executive branch and went on to help firefighters and supervisors.

In his village "about 1,600 hectares of the total of 3,550 hectares spent in the entire municipality of Monjo have disappeared".

The first house and several fire-damaged warehouses and courts are "all built", but "the main thing" – "bureaucracy is a failure" remains to be done.

"We have about one million euros approved in afforestation applications. The application, which plans to intervene on 320 acres, still depends on bureaucratic problems, and another, on 100 acres, is awaiting approval, "he explained.

Two years after the tragedy, he said, "one of the applications has already been granted and should start this month."

In the Long Valley, Pedro Rodriguez won the parish council he won in 2017 on the eve of the arrival of the fire and had no time to know the angles to the house.

“I had civil protection over me, seeking information, funds and support. I was shocked, ”he admitted.

In the "completely destroyed" forest, "burned pine logging" is still in progress, and eucalyptus trees are gaining ground.

"In the short term we will be attacked by eucalyptus," he said.

The "very complicated" days of October 2017 "will never be forgotten" because they burned "areas in the village that were not thought to burn".

"It just didn't burn anymore, because the population intervened and the aid was stronger than the fire," he said.

Report by Andrea Cruz of the Luca Agency

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