Portugal fires: How safe is it to travel to the Algarve? Latest travel advice for tourists

Portugal is entering the sixth day of wildfires ravaging the south of the country in the Algarve – an area hugely popular with British tourists. 

It began last Friday in Monchqiue, Faro District, and has since spread to neighbouring Silves and Portimão.

So far the blaze has resulted in at least 30 injuries and scorched 17,000 hectares, according to official estimates. There have been no deaths.

Monchqiue has been without water since Monday and several homes and vehicles have been destroyed in the inferno.

Over 1,400 firefighters have been tackling the fire but strong winds that are constantly changing direction is making the task much harder.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are now advising against travel to any areas where the fire is burning and have updated their travel advice.

A major forest fire, which started a number of days ago in the area of Monchique, in the Algarve, has spread to neighbouring municipalities,” the FC) wrote on their site today.

“The Portuguese authorities have been evacuating the affected areas. Strong winds in the area make the spread of fire unpredictable. 

“For your own safety, travel to the areas where the fires are burning is not advised. If you’re already in the area, follow the instructions of the Portuguese police and Civil Protection authorities.”

Faro Airport remains open with flights in and out of the region still operating.

The stifling heatwave sweeping Europe has caused temperatures to soar to 46C in places, close to country’s national record of 47.4C.

The blaze started in eucalyptus and pine forests in the hills but is now steadily moving towards the coast, where thousands take their holidays every year.

Smoke was growing thicker on the coast and flames were closing in on the town of Silves, just 10 km (six miles) inland, where one resident said it was “snowing ashes.”

“It’s snowing ashes and the sky is yellowish. The scene looks straight out of a science fiction movie because this colour is not normal,” said Nuno Sarsfield Magalhaes, 43, who has an agricultural business in Silves.

The fire erupted five days ago during an extreme heatwave and has prompted criticism of the authorities despite their efforts to prevent a repeat of the deadliest fires in history last year, in which 114 people died.

Travellers staying in parts of the Algarve were told to leave as flames came within miles of popular holiday resorts.

Hundreds of tourists staying at the Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa were told to leave just after midnight on Sunday and bussed to a resort half hour away. 

A hotel spokesman said: “We have been liaising with the fire service and local authorities and took a joint decision yesterday evening to transport guests and staff to two other hotels.

“The exercise went extremely smoothly and we continue to monitor the situation with a view to return when any risk has passed.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently revealed what you should do to protect your health if you’re caught up in an area affected by fire on holiday this summer. 

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