Panic as Vilamoura fire forces mass resort evacuation

Hundreds of panicked holidaymakers had to be rushed off a Vilamoura beach resort yesterday afternoon after fire broke out in scrubland nearby.

The fire was picked up by strong winds and headed directly towards the Terraços da Falésia complex.

Tourists were herded into the cars while firefighters evacuated children, the elderly and handicapped.

According to newspaper reports, some guests were panicked into packing their bags, thinking the resort was in for a direct hit.

But as fire chief Irlandino Santos explained afterwards, there was never any danger of this, although the blaze went on to consume as much as 10 hectares of wilderness.

Over 40 firemen, 11 vehicles and one helicopter fought the fire and swiftly brought it under control.

But as boots on the ground concentrated on dampening down, another fire was reported in deep countryside near Silves which took until the early hours of this morning to bring under control.

The fire in a “hard-to-reach” forest area near the small village of Vale da Porta, São Marcos da Serra, did not cause damage to any property, Jornal de Notícias reported.

This morning (Thursday) there were no active fires in the Algarve, but the region as a whole is on major fire alert, with fours boroughs – Monchique, Alcoutim, Loulé and Silves – particularly vulnerable.

Elsewhere in the country, a total of seven other districts are on elevated fire watch: Beja, Évora, Santarém, Castelo Branco, Leiria, Guarda and Aveiro.