Fires in Portugal: Tourists flee Odemira as wildfire inferno spreads in 46C heat

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Firefighters battle wildfires in Portugal as thousands forced to evacuate

Tourists are among hundreds who have scrambled to evacuate homes and holiday resorts in Portugal as a wildfire inferno ripped across the country during a 46C heatwave.

The wildfire started on Saturday in the municipality of Odemira, in the Alentejo region, but it has since spread south towards the Algarve, one of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations.

Around 1,400 people have now been evacuated as hundreds of firefighters battle the intense blaze, nine of whom have been injured. Blockades have also been put in place across several roads, with over 100 tourists scrambling out of their hotels to safety across tourist sites in Odemira.

Odemira’s mayor, Helder Guerreiro, called the situation “critical, difficult and complex” while Civil Protection commander Jose Ribeiro said there was a “lot of work” ahead to bring the wildfire under control.

Two active fronts have now been confirmed, with one heading to a lush green mountainous area in the Algarve’s countryside. Monchique, which last burned in 2018, is popular among locals and tourists due to its thermal springs and hotels.

The news comes following temperatures of 46.4C on Monday, recorded in Santarém.


Spain wildfires largely controlled, officials say

Spain is faring better with its wildfires this week despite the high temperatures of the country’s third heat wave this summer.

Officials said three fires that started over the weekend have been brought under control or had been extinguished by today.

The biggest blaze, in the northeast, burned about 600 hectares and required the evacuation of 150 people.

The only fire out of control in Spain is in the southwest near the Portuguese border. Some 20 people in two rural hostels were evacuated. Strong winds were reported to be complicating firefighting efforts.

Spain’s AEMET weather agency said temperatures will continue to rise at least until Friday, with some areas of the southern Andalusia region hitting 44 C (111 F).

A drought in Spain for the past two years has led to water restrictions in several parts of the country. Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry said Tuesday that reservoirs nationally were at 41 per cent of their capacity owing to high temperatures and the severe lack of rain.

Stuti Mishra9 August 2023 07:00


Temperatures soar in Iberia amid wildfires

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling a series of wildfires in Portugal as it and neighbouring Spain experience several days of extreme summer heat, with temperatures in many areas rising above 40 degrees Celsius (104F).

On Monday, the city of Santarem, about 80km northeast of the capital, Lisbon, set the year’s highest temperature at 46.4C (115.5F). Temperatures are forecast to fall nationwide from today, though they will mostly remain above 30C (86F).

Stuti Mishra9 August 2023 06:30


Day 4 of Portugal wildfires

High temperatures and strong winds continue to hamper efforts to control wildfires raging in Portugal that have scorched thousands of hectares and forced the evacuation of about 1,400 people.

The wildfires, which started on Saturday in the municipality of Odemira in Alentejo region, have since spread south towards the Algarve, one of Portugal’s top tourist destinations.

Jose Ribeiro, regional commander of the emergency and civil protection authority (ANPC), said weather conditions were expected to remain challenging.

“It is a worrying situation,” Mr Ribeiro told reporters on Tuesday, adding there were two active fronts, with one heading to Monchique, a lush green mountainous area in the Algarve’s countryside.

Stuti Mishra9 August 2023 06:05


Portugal wildfire visible from space

The wildfires in Portugal have grown so big they’re visible from space.

This satellite image released by the European space agency Copernicus shows the size and extent of the raging fires.

This image, captured by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites on 7 August, shows the wildfire hotspots and the massive smoke cloud generated

(European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery)

Stuti Mishra9 August 2023 05:16


We’re going to pause live updates on the blog for tonight, thanks for following here.

My colleagues will be back in a few hours’ time to bring you further developments.

You can read our latest report on the wildfires here, or keep scrolling to catch up on today’s news, as we reported it:

Andy Gregory9 August 2023 00:15


Video report: Firefighters battle wildfires in Portugal as thousands forced to evacuate

Firefighters battle wildfires in Portugal as thousands forced to evacuate

Andy Gregory9 August 2023 00:02


Portugal weather forecast as wildfires spread to Algarve amid 46C heatwav

Tuesday’s heat in Odemira was expected to reach highs of 36C, with 30C predicted on Wednesday.

However, the forecast shows hope of respite elsewhere amidst the recent heat, with the Met Office forecasting highs of 29C across Lisbon and 27C in Faro on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, temperatures are also expected to dip to highs of 28C in Lisbon and Faro, with another uptick in temperature anticipated towards the end of the week. On Thursday and Friday, Lisbon is expected to reach highs of 31C and 32C, 32C and 33C in Faro.

My colleague Eleanor Noyce has more in this report:

Andy Gregory8 August 2023 23:16


Is it safe to travel to the Algarve right now?

Following wildfires near Cascais last month, Portugal is once again being hit by raging flames.

This time, blazes have broken out near the popular holiday region of the Algarve in southern Portugal. The fire started on Saturday 5 August in the Odemira area north of the Algarve, and since then has swept south.

If you’re booked to travel to Portugal, is it still safe to go? And what are your rights if you cancel a holiday? Here’s what we know so far.

Our travel editor Helen Coffey has this advice for holidaymakers:

Andy Gregory8 August 2023 22:32


Are Greece wildfires caused by climate change?

While the cause of the blazes in Rhodes last month have not officially been identified, local authorities have suggested at least some could have been the work of arsonists.

But climate science and fire risk specialists say it’s undeniable that rising temperatures and prolonged heatwaves mean the fires in the Mediterranean country have spread faster and burned over larger areas.

My colleague Maanya Sachdeva reports:

Andy Gregory8 August 2023 21:52


Antarctica is missing an area of sea ice the size of Greenland — what’s going on?

While scorching temperatures are currently being recorded in the Iberian Peninsula, perhaps the most alarming global climate event is occurring on the far side of the world in Antarctica, where sea ice formation has hit a record low – and by a colossal margin.

It is now deep winter in the southern hemisphere; most of Antarctica is plunged into darkness for several months and the vast tracts of sea ice that fringe the continent’s coast are usually expanding out over the open ocean.

But this year, sea ice formation has dropped off a cliff. The continent is currently missing an area of ice larger than Greenland.

“It’s not just a record, it’s a ‘hit out of the ball park’ type thing,” says Caroline Holmes, a polar climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey. “It really is very different.”

Harry Cockburn has more in this long read:

Andy Gregory8 August 2023 20:26

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