‘It was like the last days of Pompeii’

The wildfires send ash clouds over Albufeira's main beach on Wednesday.
The wildfires send ash clouds over Albufeira's main beach on Wednesday.

A local councillor has spoken of how nervous holidamakers have witnessed ash clouds descend over popular holiday destination, Albufeira, as wildfires continue to rage through Portugal this week.

Sinn Fein Derry Councillor Sandra Duffy said that tourists in the Algarve capital were keeping a close eye on the fires as authorities there issued updated warnings yesterday.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy.

Albufeira has become one of the most popular holiday destinations for local people over recent years as a result of easily accessible flights to the airport at Faro.

It is understood there are currently a number of families and groups from Derry, Strabane, Donegal and Limavady on holiday in the region.

Colr. Duffy, who is residing between the Old Town and the New Town in Albufeira with her husband and two children, said yesterday: “The fires are around 30 kms away now.

“When we arrived on Monday they mentioned the fires, but they were further away and you could just see a wee bit of smoke in distance.

The orange skies above Albufeira's Old Town.

The orange skies above Albufeira's Old Town.

“Yesterday at 4pm we were down at the pool and we saw what we thought were dark clouds coming in, so we decided to travel into town and do a bit of shopping.

“When we were there the sky just turned yellow; the sun was blood red and then ash started falling from the sky. We were looking to locals to see if they were concerned and you could see that the shop keepers themselves, were starting to panic.”

Colr. Duffy, who captured the scene in these photographs, said she had never witnessed anything like it before. “It was like the last days of Pompeii.

“It was so freaky.”

Colr. Duffy's picture of the smoke clouds closing in on Albufeira.

Colr. Duffy's picture of the smoke clouds closing in on Albufeira.

Portugal’s army have been drafted in to assist the thousands of fire fighters involved in the wildfire operations, but their efforts have been impacted by changeable winds and soaring temperatures.

The Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised citizens from here holidaying in the region: “With the current hot weather and wind conditions, the risk is particularly acute and a number of fires are burning, including in some areas frequented by tourists.

“The largest active wildfire at present is centred on Monchique, western Algarve. Those in other localities nearby should remain alert to local advice and be prepared to react quickly, particularly if there are changes in wind direction.”