Is it safe to travel to Portugal as wildfires spread?
9 August 2023, 07:10
The wildfires started on Saturday and have continued to spread throughout Portugal.
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Wildfires in Portugal have continued to ravage the country for the past three days, with more than 800 firefighters tackling the blaze.
The fire started in the Odemira area of the country and has made its way to the Algarve and further south. Odemira's mayor, Helder Guerreiro, said the situation was "critical, difficult and complex."
So far 1,400 people have been evacuated from the area and around 6,700 hectares of land have been destroyed.
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With the hot weather set to continue, is it still safe to travel to Portugal?
At the time of writing, there is currently no state of alert regarding the Portuguese wildfires.
Portugal’s Minister of Internal Administration, José Luís Carneiro, gave a statement regarding the government's decision to not declare a state of alert.
The Portugal Resident reported the minister saying: “Either because of the response of the (teams), or because of the number of fires, or because of the change that seems to be positive in the movement of winds – and also because there has been, from yesterday to today, a relative replacement of nocturnal humidity, for now the alert situation will not be ordered.”
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There has been no official update from the UK Foreign Office on whether it is unsafe to travel to Portugal, however the website states the following:
"Forest fires can occur anywhere in Portugal. Risk of fires is higher when the weather is hot and dry. Fires have become more common due to drought and high temperatures. Forest fires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The Portuguese authorities may evacuate areas and close roads for safety reasons."
They have added that people should:
- Familiarise yourself with local safety and emergency procedures
- Follow the advice of the Portuguese authorities
- Call the emergency services on 112 if you see a wildfire
"Starting a forest fire, even if it is by accident, is illegal in Portugal. For information about active forest fires and forecasts, visit the Portuguese Met Office website for information on Portugal and Madeira," they added.
The Met Office are reporting that the hot weather is set to continue and parts of Spain, Portugal and North Africa could reach the mid 40C.
📈 Temperatures have increased across Spain, Portugal and North Africa in recent days, widely into the mid 30s °C, if not into the low to mid 40s °C— Met Office (@metoffice) August 7, 2023
📉 The heat is expected to extend further north and east by midweek, before temperatures return closer to average by the weekend pic.twitter.com/HqEs43Tk1S
Since the FCDO has not issued an advisory against all 'non-essential' travel to Portugal, it may be difficult to get a refund on your holiday if you choose not to go.
It is best to contact the travel company you have booked with to confirm their cancellation policy.