'Flames like the devil': Fire rips through Algarve resort with Duncan Bannatyne forced to flee

'Flames like the devil': Fire rips through Algarve resort with Duncan Bannatyne forced to flee

‘Flames like the devil’: Wildfire rips through luxury Algarve golf resort with Duncan Bannatyne among those forced to flee their mansions as ‘suffocating’ 47C (116F) heatwave continues to rage across Europe

  • Wildfires have ripped through Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Turkey and Greece amid sweltering heatwave
  • One blaze raged in an exclusive Algarve resort home to Duncan Bannatyne, John Terry and Steven Gerrard 
  • Meteorologists say the blistering heat is expected to worsen with highs of 116F expected in Seville today

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Wildfires continue to rip through Europe amid a ‘suffocating’ heatwave with temperatures already soaring to a sweltering 115F and expected to rise even further today.

Portugal has been hit by a series of blazes with some encroaching on the exclusive neighbourhood of Quinta do Lago where properties sell for between £1million and £9.5million, home to stars including Roman Abramovich, Duncan Bannatyne, John Terry and Steven Gerrard.

Footage shows swirling flames tearing through the luxury resort, destroying golf courses as panicked tourists desperately tried to flee in their cars from the looming inferno.

Thousands of firefighters battled blazes across Portugal with one devastated villager describing flames as ‘looking like the devil’.

The blistering heat has caused similar fires to break out in Spain, France, Turkey and Croatia as Europe continues to suffer under the furnace-like heat dome blanketing the continent.

Spain’s state meteorological agency AEMET said they expect today to be the hottest day so far of the heatwave, despite one unofficial street thermometer in Seville registering a staggering temperature of 120F.

Experts say the city will see official highs of 116F today, as firefighters continue to tackle blazes which have razed at least 3,500 acres in Extremadura.

Most of Spain was placed on high alert Wednesday, and AEMET said some regions were ‘suffocating’ – especially in the worst-affected Andalusia in the south, Extremadura in the southwest and Galicia in the northwest. 

PORTUGAL: A worker reacts as a forest fire hits the lumber factory where he works in Albergaria a Velha, Portugal, as wildfires devastate Europe

Portugal has been devastated by multiple blazes which have encroached on the exclusive neighbourhood of Quinta do Lago (pictured)

Portugal has been devastated by multiple blazes which have encroached on the exclusive neighbourhood of Quinta do Lago (pictured)

Portugal has been devastated by multiple blazes which have encroached on the exclusive neighbourhood of Quinta do Lago (pictured) 

Fire burns near a swimming pool during a forest fire in the village of Lavradio, Ourem, in Portugal which is gripped by forest fires

Fire burns near a swimming pool during a forest fire in the village of Lavradio, Ourem, in Portugal which is gripped by forest fires

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In the southern Algarve region, popular with tourists, a fire broke out in the city of Faro and spread to the Quinta do Lago luxury resort

A forest fire reaches an empty house in Bemposta after residents were forced to flee from the encroaching flames

A forest fire reaches an empty house in Bemposta after residents were forced to flee from the encroaching flames

FRANCE: Beach-goers bathe and lay at a beach of Pyla sur mer as a black cloud of smoke from a fire that hit La Teste-de-Buch forest rises from the Pyla Dune in the background

FRANCE: Beach-goers bathe and lay at a beach of Pyla sur mer as a black cloud of smoke from a fire that hit La Teste-de-Buch forest rises from the Pyla Dune in the background

TURKEY: A firefighting helicopter carries water over a wildfire forest fire which broke out in the Datca district of Mugla

TURKEY: A firefighting helicopter carries water over a wildfire forest fire which broke out in the Datca district of Mugla

CROATIA: Fueled by strong winds, fires raged at Croatia's Adriatic Sea, with the most dramatic situation reported near the town of Sibenik

CROATIA: Fueled by strong winds, fires raged at Croatia’s Adriatic Sea, with the most dramatic situation reported near the town of Sibenik

SPAIN: A thermometer displaying 49C (120F) is seen in an empty street during the second heatwave of the year, in Seville

SPAIN: A thermometer displaying 49C (120F) is seen in an empty street during the second heatwave of the year, in Seville

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The blistering heat has caused fires to break out in Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey and Croatia

The blistering heat has caused fires to break out in Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey and Croatia 

Why is hot weather affecting the world? 

It is not only Europe, but also the US and China that are suffering from dangerous heatwaves this summer.

The Azores High pressure system which usually sits off the coast of Spain has grown larger and moved north, bringing warmer temperatures to France, the UK and the Iberian peninsula.  

On top of this, southerly winds from northern Africa and the Sahara are bringing hotter than usual temperatures, combined with July’s already warmer weather.

The result is a heat dome over much of Europe, a mass of stagnant hot air.

A similar area of heat-trapping high pressure is blanketing the US, while anticyclones have driven upt he temperatures in China.

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Across the border in Portugal, a number of ‘infernal’ wildfires have ravaged regions, destroying homes, businesses and golf courses.

João Anastácio, 63, said he had to shut himself inside with a wet towel over his head as the blaze raged outside his home in Ansião.

He said: ‘It looked like the devil. Everything around my house burned.’

One person died in a forest blaze after a body was found in a burned area in the northern region of Aveiro.

At Leiria, central Portugal, locals fought to save their village as fires closed in on them.

‘Everything burned yesterday except the houses, because the people are very brave and defended them themselves,’ said 77-year-old farmer Adelino Rodrigues.

‘The firefighters arrived much later. It looked like the end of the world,’ he recalled.

In the southern Algarve region, popular with tourists, a fire broke out in the city of Faro and spread to the Quinta do Lago luxury resort. 

Duncan Bannatyne revealed he and his wife had to flee from his Portuguese mansion amid the blaze.

The former Dragons Den star, 73, now lives full time with wife Nigora, 42, in Vale do Lobo – where a fire broke out.

Duncan took to Twitter to tell his followers that he and his family were forced to leave their home after flames spread through the resort where he lives amid a heatwave.

He wrote: ‘Terrible day in the Algarve today. We have survived but it was a bit scary. Yes. We had to leave our homes today but luckily very few properties were damaged.’

Wildfires: The former Dragons Den star, 73, took to Twitter to tell his followers that he and his family were forced to leave their home after flames spread through the resort where he lives

Wildfires: The former Dragons Den star, 73, took to Twitter to tell his followers that he and his family were forced to leave their home after flames spread through the resort where he lives

A worker runs away when a forest fire that has hit the lumber factory where he works in Albergaria a Velha

A worker runs away when a forest fire that has hit the lumber factory where he works in Albergaria a Velha

Residents react and try to fight the fire as they see the forest lands around their houses burning

Residents react and try to fight the fire as they see the forest lands around their houses burning

Firefighters during a forest fire that has hit a timber factory in Portugal as wildfires sweep across the country

Firefighters during a forest fire that has hit a timber factory in Portugal as wildfires sweep across the country

Thousands of firefighters battled more than 20 blazes that raged on Wednesday across Portugal and western Spain, menacing villages and disrupting tourists' holidays

Thousands of firefighters battled more than 20 blazes that raged on Wednesday across Portugal and western Spain, menacing villages and disrupting tourists’ holidays

A truck carrying water tanks drives by a forest fire as smoke darkens the sky in the village of Bemposta, near Ansiao, central Portugal

A truck carrying water tanks drives by a forest fire as smoke darkens the sky in the village of Bemposta, near Ansiao, central Portugal

A woman runs in front of a gas station close to the forest fire in Palmela, Portugal, with the fire still burning today near a petrol station

A woman runs in front of a gas station close to the forest fire in Palmela, Portugal, with the fire still burning today near a petrol station

In Portugal, a number of 'infernal' wildfires have ravaged regions, destroying homes, businesses and golf courses

In Portugal, a number of ‘infernal’ wildfires have ravaged regions, destroying homes, businesses and golf courses

Firefighters fight the flames near a house threatened by a fire in the Ludo area, Faro, Algarve, in the south of Portugal

Firefighters fight the flames near a house threatened by a fire in the Ludo area, Faro, Algarve, in the south of Portugal

A resident tries puts out a fire with a tree branch as his sees the forest lands surrounding his home burning in Portugal

A resident tries puts out a fire with a tree branch as his sees the forest lands surrounding his home burning in Portugal

The entrepreneur also shared footage of a helicopter which scooped up water from the sea, saying: ‘They are doing a fantastic job.’

He also posted a video of the emergency services and fire brigade arriving near his home, admitting he couldn’t go back until the paths had been cleared.

He was heard telling Nigora in the clip: ‘So we can’t go home because they are blocking the road down to our house. 

‘Maybe the fire has started again. As Nigora can be heard saying: “S**t what do we do next?” Duncan replies: “Nothing we do except stay here for the moment”.’

He then added: ‘Was a hell of a day in the Algarve today.’

Videos shared online showed flames edging close to swanky villas, burning palm trees and parts of golf courses.

About half of drought-hit Portugal will remain on red alert for extreme heat conditions on Thursday, with the highest temperatures expected in the Santarem and Castelo Branco districts, the IPMA weather institute said.

Meteorologists said an overheated mass of air and warm African winds are driving temperatures in the Iberian Peninsula beyond their usual highs (pictured: Madrid)

Meteorologists said an overheated mass of air and warm African winds are driving temperatures in the Iberian Peninsula beyond their usual highs (pictured: Madrid) 

helicopter pours water into a forest fire in Monsagro, Salamanca, Spain, which spread uncontrollably through pine forests

helicopter pours water into a forest fire in Monsagro, Salamanca, Spain, which spread uncontrollably through pine forests

A view of a burned area due to a fire in Monsagro which saw 1,000 hectares destroyed by the blaze

A view of a burned area due to a fire in Monsagro which saw 1,000 hectares destroyed by the blaze

Spain's state meteorological agency AEMET said they expect today to be the hottest day so far of the heatwave

Spain’s state meteorological agency AEMET said they expect today to be the hottest day so far of the heatwave

Wednesday’s highest temperature was registered in the central town of Lousa at 115 Fahrenheit, one degree below a 2003 record.

Retiree Antonio Ramalheiro blamed inadequate forest management in addition to the heat wave for the wildfires.

‘It is scary when the fire comes,’ the 62-year-old said. ‘If it reaches the house it is a disgrace…you lose everything.’

At least 135 people have suffered mainly minor injuries since wildfires began in Portugal last week, and about 800 people have been evacuated from their homes, according to the Civil Protection Authority.

In France, more than 2,700 hectares have burned so far in the Gironde region, prefect Buccio told BFM TV. 

The biggest of the two fires is around the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux, where roads have been closed and 500 residents evacuated.

The other one is along the Atlantic Coast, close to the iconic Dune du Pilat – the tallest sand dune in Europe – located in the Arcachon Bay area, above which heavy clouds of dark smoke were seen rising in the sky.

That fire led to the preventive evacuation of 6,000 people from five surrounding campsites. They were taken to a local exhibition centre for shelter.

‘Other campers woke us up at around 4.30 in the morning. We had to leave immediately and quickly choose what to take with us,’ Christelle, one of the evacuated tourists, told BFM TV.

On the eve of Bastille Day, the Gironde prefecture has forbidden all fireworks until Monday in towns and villages in close proximity to forests.

A huge inferno looms behind a firefighter in the Gironde region of France which has been destroyed by devastating wildfires

A huge inferno looms behind a firefighter in the Gironde region of France which has been destroyed by devastating wildfires

In France, the fire brigade in the Gironde region struggles to put out a huge forest fire ripping through the countryside

In France, the fire brigade in the Gironde region struggles to put out a huge forest fire ripping through the countryside

Two men sunbath on the grass on Place de la Daurade, in Toulouse, southern France, amid soaring temperatures across the continent

Two men sunbath on the grass on Place de la Daurade, in Toulouse, southern France, amid soaring temperatures across the continent 

Tourists look at the plume of dark smoke on the shoreline of Arcachon from the peer in Andernos-les-Bains, due to a wildfire in a forest near La Teste

Tourists look at the plume of dark smoke on the shoreline of Arcachon from the peer in Andernos-les-Bains, due to a wildfire in a forest near La Teste

A dog drinks from a fountain in Paris after a second heatwave to rock Europe in less than a month

A dog drinks from a fountain in Paris after a second heatwave to rock Europe in less than a month

Children sprinkle themselves with water from the fountain in the Water Mirror, during a heat wave, in Bordeaux

Children sprinkle themselves with water from the fountain in the Water Mirror, during a heat wave, in Bordeaux

A spate of wildfires is scorching parts of Europe, with firefighters battling blazes in Portugal, Spain and southern France (pictured)

A spate of wildfires is scorching parts of Europe, with firefighters battling blazes in Portugal, Spain and southern France (pictured)

A firefighter works to extinguish a wildfire at the bottom of the Dune du Pilat near La Teste-de-Buch, southwestern France

A firefighter works to extinguish a wildfire at the bottom of the Dune du Pilat near La Teste-de-Buch, southwestern France

‘There were flames at the top of the trees 30 metres high,’ mayor Mylene Doreau told AFP.

‘We could see them moving towards the village, it was scary.’

Some 600 firefighters have been battling the blazes in the region, aided by waterbomber aircraft.

To limit the risk of accidental fire, some cities – including Toulouse and Lourdes – made changes to their Bastille Day celebrations on Thursday. Nimes simply cancelled the traditional fireworks altogether.

Spectators at the annual Tour de France, which is currently crossing the French Alps, watched the riders tackle some of the bike race’s toughest climbs in the blazing sunshine on Wednesday.

‘They really feel the heat. I’m just standing here watching,’ French student Jean Gosselin, 18, said sympathetically.

Last week, an avalanche triggered by the collapse of the largest glacier in the Italian Alps – due to unusually warm temperatures – killed 11 people.

In Greece, two people were killed after a firefighting helicopter with four crew members aboard crashed into the sea, the coastguard and fire service said on Thursday.

The two men, from Romania and Moldova, had been recovered unconscious in the water off the island of Samos on Wednesday evening and taken to the hospital there.

Efforts to resuscitate them failed, a spokeswoman for the coastguards told AFP.

A wildfire rages on a mountain slope on the island of Samos, Greece, where two people have died in a rescue helicopter crash

A wildfire rages on a mountain slope on the island of Samos, Greece, where two people have died in a rescue helicopter crash

A helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos after another helicopter crashed into the sea

A helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos after another helicopter crashed into the sea

Volunteers help to extinguish a wildfire forest fire which broke out in the Datca district of Mugla, Turkey

Volunteers help to extinguish a wildfire forest fire which broke out in the Datca district of Mugla, Turkey

In Turkey, thousands were evacuated due to a wildfire in the southwestern Datca peninsula, as firefighters battled to contain the blazes fanned by strong winds that spread to residential areas overnight

In Turkey, thousands were evacuated due to a wildfire in the southwestern Datca peninsula, as firefighters battled to contain the blazes fanned by strong winds that spread to residential areas overnight

Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said preliminary investigations showed the fire broke out at an electrical transformer around midday on Wednesday

Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said preliminary investigations showed the fire broke out at an electrical transformer around midday on Wednesday

Smoke rises from a wildfire as it is seen from Kargi Bay in Datca in Mugla province, Turkey

Smoke rises from a wildfire as it is seen from Kargi Bay in Datca in Mugla province, Turkey

The other crew members, the Romanian pilot and a Greek colleague, had been saved, the emergency services said.

State television ERT said the accident occurred when the helicopter was resupplying with sea water to fight a fire that broke out on Wednesday afternoon near the village of Paleochori, in the southwest of the Aegean island.

The fire continued to burn on Thursday, fanned by strong winds.

Around 100 firefighters and 15 vehicles, backed up by an army of volunteers, were on site to tackle it, the authorities said.

An inquiry has been launched into the cause of the blaze.

Meanwhile in Turkey, thousands were evacuated due to a wildfire in the southwestern Datca peninsula, as firefighters battled to contain the blazes fanned by strong winds that spread to residential areas overnight.

Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said preliminary investigations showed the fire broke out at an electrical transformer around midday on Wednesday.

‘What makes our job a little more difficult is the wind effect, the direction and intensity of which are unpredictable,’ he said early on Thursday.

A firefighter watches wildfire burn in Zaton, Croatia, which has also been rocked  by devastating blazes

A firefighter watches wildfire burn in Zaton, Croatia, which has also been rocked  by devastating blazes

Water-dropping planes and dozens of firefighters struggled to contain the flames that briefly engulfed some cars and a church tower

Water-dropping planes and dozens of firefighters struggled to contain the flames that briefly engulfed some cars and a church tower

Turkey’s Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said some 450 houses and 3,530 people were evacuated as fires reached residential areas in the sparsely populated parts of the peninsula.

Footage from Wednesday showed smoke billowing from the woodlands as helicopters doused water on the blazes while the flames spread. It also showed the garden of a house engulfed in smoke, with trees in the yard catching fire.

The Mugla province mayor’s office said 17 houses and 728 hectares of land were affected by the fire. It shared data that showed winds in the region had eased significantly on Thursday morning.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 19 people had been affected by the fire and nine of them were still being treated as of Thursday morning.

Authorities said 10 planes and 20 helicopters, including one that can operate at night, were involved in the efforts to douse the flames.

Fuelled by strong winds, fires also hit Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast, with the most dramatic situation reported near the town of Sibenik, where water-dropping planes and dozens of firefighters struggled to contain the flames that briefly engulfed some cars and a church tower. 

Regional N1 television reported that some residents evacuated the area in rubber boats. Fires were also reported near the coastal town of Zadar.

Firefighter Boris Dukic told state HRT television that ‘it’s hell, we don’t know where to go first.’

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Jack Newman

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