Mother Earth

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This is a guest post written by my husband..

Coming to Portugal, we already knew the devastation caused by wildfires, having read many stories and heard first hand accounts from the bad fires a couple of years ago.

We didn't imagine we would see this destructive force so close, and so soon, into our Portugal adventure down here in the Algarve.

I first noticed the fires, which were around 4 valleys away, when I stepped outside on Thursday lunchtime. I smelt what can only be described as a large bonfire in the air. The winds were strong and the place we were staying at was downwind from the fires.

Ali quickly joined the fire watch Facebook group's which tracked wildfires and it was clear that the fires was growing rapidly.

I took a vantage point further up the hill and could see the large clouds of dark smoke filling up the skyline.

The overriding feeling of nervousness and fear of unknown meant we decided to head to the local town with our daughters and valuables not knowing if we would need to find somewhere else to stay that night.

We had informed our neighbour who had been in town that morning so she headed back to see to her dogs and decided what to do next.

After some reassuring words from our neighbour who was now back home that the fires were no where near us, we decide to head back.

We stayed for the rest of the afternoon just watching, in awe, the aerial response from the fire brigade tackling the fire from our high vantage point - something I will never forget. Our neighbour described it best as she likened it to the Blitz. 8 aircraft in total, some of them quite old and wouldn't look out if place had it been WWII, making wave after wave of kamikaze-esk runs to dump water on the advancing fires. It was an awesome spectacle to watch, if it wasn't for the serious situation.

We also kept close tabs on the Facebook groups and clearly the response to the fire, in terms of growing personnel with every update, was very unsettling.

Should we head out now? Stay until we are told to evacuate? Difficult when you have two small girls to think about...the fires have the ability to change direction so quickly with the wind.

We ultimately decided to stay put after many chats with the neighbour but decided to pack up the car with what we needed in case of the need for a quick evacuation.

From this experience we have so much more gratitude for the fire fighters putting their lives at risk and all the other services and volunteers supporting the efforts of fighting the fires. The community around here is strong and it has been very reassuring. .

PortugalALISON BARKER