Inferno by the sun loungers: Portugal's wildfires rage

Inferno by the sun loungers: Portugal’s wildfires rage as 1,000 firefighters battle to bring blazes under control

  • Fires have ravaged thousands of acres around Odemira near the popular Algarve
  • READ MORE: Is it safe to travel to Portugal and what are your rights as a tourist? 

Wildfires are continuing to ravage large swathes of Portugal with over 1,000 firefighters battling to prevent them spreading further into the popular tourist hub of the Algarve.

Dramatic images from the neighbouring Alentejo region show plumes of smoke rising above poolside sunbeds as infernos raged in the distance, before the hotel they belonged to was reportedly engulfed on Saturday.

Fires first hit nearby Odemira, a picturesque town which is home to a large community of foreigners, five days ago. 

They then spread south towards the Algarve, helped by scorching temperatures and high winds, with properties said to be under threat last night.

At least 1,500 people have been evacuated over recent days from homes, campsites and holiday resorts.

More than 1,100 firefighters, 360 vehicles and fourteen aircraft were deployed at fires near Odemira on Wednesday morning, according to The National Civil Protection Service.

Dramatic images show plumes of smoke rising above poolside sunbeds as infernos raged in the distance

Most of the main house at Teima Alentejo SW is understood to have been destroyed by flames on Saturday

Teima Alentejo SW, an award-winning country hotel, before it was reportedly ravaged by flames

Personnel of the Protection and Relief Intervention Group (GIPS) specialised in combating forest fires, arrive to battle a wildfire in Reguengo in the southern Portalegre district

Nearly 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) have been blackened since Saturday, Vitor Vaz Pinto of the civil protection agency said

More than 100,000 Brits are set to visit the Algarve in the coming weeks, it is estimated. 

Holiday companies are continuously monitoring the situation following the devastation caused to resorts by fires on the Greek island of Rhodes last month.

On Saturday, one of Portugal’s top rural hotels fell victim to the most intense fires in the south of Alentejo, not far from the Algarve.

The owner of Teima Alentejo SW laid bare the destruction of her holiday getaway overnight as she criticised authorities’ response to the drama.

Luisa Botelho and her ex-husband Paulo Camacho turned it into an award-winning country hotel after buying the property nearly ten years ago.

Now most of the main house is understood to have been destroyed by flames.

Nearly 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) have been blackened since Saturday, Vitor Vaz Pinto of the civil protection agency said, adding that the blaze was still spreading ‘on two fronts’.

Local media reported that one home as well as a rural tourist lodging had been destroyed, which had not yet been confirmed by authorities.

Hélder Guerreiro, Odemira’s mayor has described the situation as ‘critical, difficult and complex’.

Nineteen villages, four lots of tourist accommodation and a campsite have been evacuated and roads have been blocked off, authorities said. 

Ana Costa, a farmer in the region, said of the fires: ‘It was terrible, there were flames everywhere and we had to scramble. Nobody was there to help us, thankfully I had three friends who came to help.’

Around 40 people, including 28 fire officers, have been given emergency medical treatment.

A separate wildfire that has already destroyed around 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) in Leiria, central Portugal, calmed somewhat overnight on Monday.

Damage done to a popular B&B in the south of Portugal, where fires have been raging for five days

A firefighter plane drops water over a wildfire in Odeceixe, south of Portugal, on August 8

Across the country, nearly 2,800 firefighters and 16 water-bombers were in action on Tuesday.

Weather warnings remained in place in both Portugal and Spain.

Much of the southern half of Spain was on orange alert on Tuesday, with the weather service saying temperatures were expected to top 44C on Tuesday and Wednesday, which are predicted to be the fiercest days of this heatwave, the third in the country this year.

Trees burn in a forest fire, as pictured from the A1 highway in the locality of Cardosos, caused the motorway to be cut off this afternoon, Leiria, Portugal, August 7, 2023

Firefighters work to put out the flames in the municipality of Odemira, August 7, 2023

The Spanish met office (AEMET) issued maximum red alerts for parts of Andalusia in the south, the Madrid region in the centre and the Basque Country in the far north.

More than 1,000 hectares of land were destroyed by flames in Spain over the weekend.

A fourth large wildfire broke out on Monday in Estremadura, central Spain, near the border with Portugal. Firefighters were unable to contain it overnight.

In total, wildfires have destroyed 100,000 hectares of land across the Iberian Peninsula this year, according to preliminary estimates. This is on top of the record 400,000 hectares destroyed last year.

Source: Read Full Article