Funchal fires update – Thursday.


Woken at 5.00 this morning by sirens – a lot of them – so unlikely that there will be any good news today. The wind has not returned, but what there is seems to have changed directions slightly. A pall of smoke still hangs over the bay of Funchal and the smell of burning pervades. People with respiratory problems will be having a tough time, and whilst no tourists have been injured, a lot have been displaced, and they cannot be quite enjoying the holiday they were expecting.
Let’s hope the site holds up a little better today after going into complete meltdown yesterday!


Further to the Comments left on the last post the authenticity of account set up by Câmara Municipal do Funchal to receive donations can be confirmed. Strangely their website has not been updated, but their Facebook page has.

Donations account details


The Diario overnight reports that the fires that started in Calheta have now spread to Prazeres. Flames have approached homes and it is apparently proving very difficult to fight the fire. In social networks there are calls for more resources to be sent to that area and residents speak of “hell” and call for greater numbers of fire-fighters. Photo: Portal da Calheta

Fires in Calheta

Copycat fires

It emerged from the fires of 2012 that were widely covered here, that a lot of fires were set by people “inspired” by the first instance (no report on any sentence for this arsonist yet). No mention of this so far in this outbreak but the spread across the south-western coast must be more than a coincidence? Update: a can of petrol has been discovered by the forest police near the seat of the Paúl da Serra fire.


Madaeira’s most famous son has posted his support on Facebook together with with an image of the Madeiran flag:

It is with a tightness in my heart that I watch what is happening in Madeira (and in other parts of the country). A lot of strength to all, and a thank you to the fire department that has the courage to risk their lives to save many others. I’m with you!”

Santander Totta donation

Following up on the donations story above, Banco Santander Totta will give a donation of half a million euros to support people who have been affected by the fires of the last three days. The news was announced by President of the Regional Government, Miguel Albuquerque, on a visit held today to premises of the Portuguese Red Cross. The president said that part of this amount will be deposited in a Property Institute account to support the reconstruction of buildings and the other part will be applied to various equipment.

14.00: The blog looks to be holding up well today, with today’s traffic already well exceeding the total for the whole of yesterday. It looks like it was one IP address – one individual or network – who was generating so many search requests on the archive database that the “resource overload” was inevitable. Thank you, whoever you are!!!

Prime Minister visits

Prime Minister visits FunchalThe Diario reports this evening the the Prime Minister of Portugal visited the island today, meeting with the head of the regional government and visiting displaced residents at the “RG3” army camp. The Prime Minister has similar problems back on the mainland, where there are numerous fires out of control. Meanwhile the Madeira Government Council asked for a feasibility study of the use of “air assets” in forestry and urban areas in the archipelago – to you and me aircraft dropping “water bombs” on fire outbreaks. Outcome expected in 120 days.


Funchal returning to a semblance of normality

As today progresses there is something of a feeling that the city is returning to normality. Might be too early to say this, but locals seem intent on getting on with their lives as usual – not surprising really, as in a little over six years Madeira has seen, and coped with, tragic floods, an outbreak of dengue fever, and now two major fires,  And it still managed to be voted the world’s leading island destination!

35 thoughts on “Funchal fires update – Thursday.”

  1. I’m due to fly to Funchal with all of my family on Sunday 14th August.

    Will it be safe?

    Will our arrival just add to the problems for the emergency services?


  2. As the people above, we are due to fly tomorrow (12th), staying at Palheiro Golf Resort – need confirmation all is well and info from official sources sketchy at best! Concerned…

  3. I wonder if you could help me. I am planning to come to Funchal this week and am a little concerned about the fires. We are supposed to be staying in Living Funchal. Would you be able to post a map on your page to show where the fires are and where the smoke is affecting please? I worked in Australia previously and this sort of map illustrations sids greatly on decision making. Thanks,

  4. We are due to fly out Monday but cannot get any answers from anybody as to what to do ….does Madeira really want more people arriving at this sad time for them! Jet two have told me if I cancel its my problem no refund and can’t swop destinations at short notice the prospect of taking my children to this area is frightening and how can we enjoy a holiday when peoples lives have been devastated like this

  5. I don’t know about Funchal or further west in Prazeres but Arco da Calheta and Loreto are Fairly ok.

    in response to Sergio while I agree that many people do not bother with learning Portuguese I have been having a weekly lesson for years and I know a lot of people who live in the area where we have a house who are studying Portuguese in locally arranged classes or travelling into Funchal , so some people do make an effort.

  6. Good for you Karen, and any others learning portuguese.

    I just get a bit irritated when I read things like “there are no reports” and “information is scarce”, when it is just not true. Of course during the begining of this terrible week, it took a little time to get communications organised, but by Monday night the communication mechanism was very well oiled. And if any person using this blog or other social netwoks doesn’t look for or understand the communications that are out there and accessible to all, then they should be honest and say so instead of misleading others, especially during a crisis situation.

    In fact one of the best ways to find out what is going on and as it happens, is a facebook page set up by madeirans with over 53.000 members. Any road accident, fire, lost or found, or any other important occurance are reported by those in the vicinity. And of course questions can be asked and answered as well, just like many of those above. I cannot put the link or this post will be blocked, but look on Facebook for “ocorrências na madeira”.

    One word of warning though, sometimes you might not like what you read.

  7. To all of the people asking, life here carries on as normal and all fires in the countryside and Funchal are under control or out. In most areas the only signs are ash everywhere and a smoky smell. Both of those will clear out quickly, one of the joys of being an island.

    If you have respiratory problems, it may be a different situation for you personally for a few more days.

    Check with your tour organizers of course. It may be that some levada walking trails in the mountains will be closed for a while, but most of the island will be or already is, back to normal.

    Personally I would not cancel, but I am very biased as I love the island and have made it my home.

    I can assure you that the sea is just as beautiful, the people just as friendly and the scenery in most places just as beautiful as before the fires.

  8. Despite all the posts I am struggling to find out if there are actually any fires in Funchal at the moment? Have they all been extinguished? Are they now confined to the interior?

  9. To everyone who is worried about coming to Madeira, if I were you I certainly wouldn’t cancel my holiday. We live in Calheta and had the flames from the fire close enough to the house for us to get in the car and leave to lower ground. As of today Calheta looks a bit sad with charred land and ash but the fires are out. We have just driven to Canico and back and did not see any fires at all, again some charred land and the mountains look hazy. As Ellen said life carries on as normal there are just a few bits of Madeira that are not as beautiful as usual, just take care when up in the mountains but you can be sure that the local people will do their best to get everything back to normal as soon as possible. To those that are concerned they will be in the way if they come PLEASE COME, MADEIRA NEEDS YOU.

  10. Sergio – I agree about learning Portuguese, but there is probably a lesser requirement to do this nowadays, particularly if you live around central Funchal where English is spoken universally – even if you try to converse in basic Portuguese!
    Admin – I wouldn’t worry about your servers being down – the blog is replicated so widely that the information is normally available on other sites.

  11. I remember a few years back when the last fires broke out.

    A family friend has a bar in “Feijao De Areia” and we were sitting there watching the cliff across the road completely burn.

    There is a cycle of environmental damage being perpetrated which WILL continue as long as priority is given to the tourist industry as opposed to the flora and fauna.

    There were several triggers that initiated the destructive cycle.

    1. Forced removal of mountain Goats to apparently protect the laurisilva which then had a direct knock on effect resulting in an increase of forest underbrush inaccessible by humans.

    2. Madeira’s environmental ministers have taken absolutely no action in regards to eradicating Eucalyptus from the Island. It is a non native species and should have already been removed due to it’s natural fire starting ability. Eucalyptus evolved to start fire’s in order to dominate it’s surroundings which it does by shedding paper thin oil laden bark in large quantities.

    Mainland Portugal is also being severely affected by raging fires, and once again what has been fueling them is the Eucalyptus and its ability to dominate and create a monoculture.

    I personally believe that if the wind had not subsided Funchal would have been engulfed in flames, and not even an army of firefighters would have been able to do anything.

    This of course will not be the end of it.
    Winter will once again come around bringing with it plenty of rain which due to the reduced live tree roots holding the soil together will result in landslides.

    Every year there are fires, Every year people shout about fire prevention and run around like headless chickens and call for a firefighting helicopter.

    Every year no fire prevention solutions are actioned and public focus quickly moves on to the latest crap on television.

    Does everyone really think the people in power care one bit about the people that died or the property that was destroyed? What they care about is lining their pockets with the profits from repairing said damage without being caught doing so.

    Regards to all.

  12. Emma, you have said it all! I was worried but have been coming for 20 odd years so back again then. What shall we bring to help people? I have heard underwear, amongst other things! Thank you, Sergio, for the info on the Facebook page, can’t wait to be back!!!

  13. Joe Lucas, I understand everything you are saying, so what are the solutions? I am a semi tourist, in as much as I return at least once a year to a timeshare type thing but have a huge amount of love for the island and its people. I also make a point of spending money in local stores and businesses

    • Whether you are a tourist, semi tourist or resident is of no concern.

      What IS of concern is the inaction by the elected officials in regards to the severe lack of environmental protection.

      Would you like to see Madeira barren of forest? Just take a look at Porto Santo….

  14. Could not agree with you more about Eucalyptus Joe. If it can’t be eradicated there should at least be some effort made to keep it under control. I would encourage everybody not to cancel their holidays. I’m sure everyone on the island will be doing there level best to get things back to as near as possible to normal as soon as possible.

  15. Mark M …. and others. Gaula (Santa Cruz, Machico) is so far unaffected. Fires in Funchal appear to be out. Google is also good for map info….and photos including NASA ones….Local Papers give up to minute details, on -line. “” translates to English.
    “netmadira DOT com” has many web cams to view situation live….
    Cooler air temps now and currently less wind…..good official weather forecast site, with “alert” info is “ipma DOT pt”
    As far as I know the main Rapida (expressway) is open and certainly business and holidays are operating as normal, certainly around our location…….good luck.

    • @Rachel,

      We can Nuke the whole planet, get rid of the Human race and then in the blink of an eye let’s say a million years maybe another species evolves that is not so violent and destructive.

      People harp on about saving the planet when really we are the one’s that need to be saved. The Earth will still be here long after the film of bacteria on it’s surface known as the human race is not even a memory.

      I do not want to come over as heartless but the simple fact is if WE do not clean up the mess the Earth WILL….

  16. Thank you for providing updates abput the fires in English language. Something, I’d normally expect your government would do. Great that people fill this gap. I met Mikael, Claus and Thomas in Porto Moniz and they handed over the information about Calheta to me. Thanks for this. It seems that in Estreito da Calheta the situation look better now, but says the wind is turning to northerlies tomorrow, so I hope it will not again bring down fires from Paul da Serra. I saw on your page that there is a bank account for donating for Funchal. Is there also one for Calheta or for the remainder of the island? By the way: a great and helpful piece of information would be a map of Madeira with a fires marked and it’s current status described in English language and with all closed roads marked. Again, I think that normally your government should provide such information, but it seems they lack the competency for a normal information policy. So, if you know such a map, it’ll be great if you could share it in your blog. All the best,

  17. As one tourist to all the tourist’s that want to come over. Just come. The best help the ppl can get right now is income from the tourists so come over and spent your money here. This way both will be happy!

    Funchal is Hurt and damagede. But it still lives!

  18. As an editor I try not to get involved in “Comments” too often, but having scanned all the various reports all day, and witnessed Funchal first hand, I cannot see any reason why anybody should not travel to the island.

  19. Dominik and others…

    Good up to date = I think = information on road and walk closures can be found on = http x3w and . needed… other links

    visitmadeira DOT pt

    click on useful information

    Site offers English version.

  20. Joe, I will leave you with your comments, as a UN lawyer I have heard worse. I though this was a blog about a much loved island, not a political debate.

    To everyone in Madeira, we will be coming over, my family and I, because the love you have always shown us and the way you treat us is fantastic.


    • @Rachel

      I am sure that the Madeiran’s will welcome you and your family with smiles and open arms.

      Would that be the same UN that has been supplying weapons to various factions of the civil war in Syria?

      Your previous comment asking me if I had a solution now makes perfect sense.

      Do have a splendid time in Madeira.

  21. I must admit, I am upset by your comments but we all have a right to an opinion. I said I was a lawyer for the UN and not a government official, some of us have worked long and hard for justice, maybe you should look into the good someone like me does for a living.

    Thank you, I know we will have a good time, as always, but more by contributing to the help needed locally rather than by quaffing cocktails by the pool!!

    • @Rachel

      I fully respect your position and am not condemning you personally in any way so there is no need to become upset. As you were a UN lawyer, you should be able to handle some pretty tough issue’s.

      You will find that Madeiran’s are a pretty tough bunch and are very used to facing challenging situations with determination. In general they do not sit around and expect government to step in and clean things up but instead tend to tackle the situation head on.

      You really want to help the People of the Magical island?
      Then why not take ownership of the issue and use your skill set, experience and contacts to effect positive change via the EU in Brussels?

      I am known quite well on this great blog for being a cold, logical geek who pulls no punches 🙂

      Einstein said it best: Insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results….

      Good weekend

  22. Joe,

    Thanks for the reply, I am a tough nut at work but tend to let the mask down with personal things!

    I would love to get involved but when I am fighting for women’s rights in Sout East Asia and I am bringing up 5 kids alone so rarely have time to breath.

    I am bringing underwear to the coffee house opposite the Ritz on Tuesday, however, and will ask then if I can do anything else.

    All the best.


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