Something About Me: Fires in Portugal

Something About Me Part 2

Following on from last week’s blog, Mrs Barry’s class chose to write about some of their most memorable moments from their lives.  The students wrote their pieces, which were then were critiqued by the whole class, edited and improved.  We will feature several of them in our next few posts: we hope you enjoy them reading about their experiences


Fires in Portugal by Isla

My most memorable moment happened when I was nine years old when my family and I were staying in a small village in rural Portugal.

It was a scorching hot summers day, too hot to go outside unless you wanted to burn, I literally felt like I was melting like a snowman.

My sister and I were busy doing our homework. It was then that my sister Evie noticed thick black clouds of smoke drifting across the valley.

Evie rushed into the bedroom shouting “Fire fire!.”

Fires were not unusual, so we didn’t panic and continued with our homework.  A few minutes later Evie went onto the roof and realized the fire was getting nearer, this time she screamed at us to take notice. I looked out of the window the smoke was getting close!  Evie was already frantically putting the dogs into the back of the jeep.  In a panic I grabbed a few things including, passport, phones, computers and water and within minutes we were driving away from the house feeling scared.  As we drove away. I glanced over my shoulder, I wondered if it was going to be the last time I saw the house!

Driving out of the village the fire was all around, trees were burning, the fire was racing along the floor.  I wondered if we could beat it!  We tried to get to another village, but the roads were blocked, trees were falling across the roads and at times we had to drive with flames licking the sides of the car.  We headed for the town, driving into an inferno of flames, the thick black smoke choking the air.  I was shocked when I saw people wearing gas masks, it made me think of stories I had read about the blitz.  Mum made us put our clothing over our mouths to breath as it hurt every time we took a breath; the smoke was everywhere. 

We tried frantically to drive out of the town, whichever way we turned we came across blocked roads.  We soon realised all the roads were closed as firefighters battled to save the town. Large groups of people were in the streets trying to find safety.  People were rushing about barely being able to see a foot in front of them.  It was how I imagine a war zone!

Afraid of what might be ahead, we kept moving until we got to the fire station.  There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of people being sent to areas of safety.  We were given water bottles and told to stay in the town, we decided to stay in the car as the smoke couldn’t get inside.

We kept moving all night as the fire kept getting nearer and nearer. Many people stayed in their cars as their houses were filled with smoke.  The noise was like bonfire night as buildings were exploding, cars and petrol stations were blowing up, the sky was dark and sinister.  Burnt out cars were scattered across the road along with burning lorries that looked like they were about to topple over! Trees littering the roads made us swerve and nearly crash!  We all kept talking to each other, reassuring and even laughing, although it was scary it seemed like fun! Later that night I tried to sleep but I was too worried too even close my eyes.

We were parked outside a Lidl and our dad messaged us from England “I’m on my way, I will be there in the morning.” It was such a relief! 

In the morning we went to the side of the valley to look over at our house, we didn’t know whether our house had survived!  We set off to pick up our dad who had been travelling all night to get to us. When I saw my dad, I flung my arms around him, I was so pleased to see him.

After grabbing some food, we headed back to our house not knowing what we would find! Driving back, we all sat quietly contemplating what we might see.  To our amazement the house was still there, and we had only broken windows and had a burnt-out garden, but many people including our neighbours lost their houses and some their lives.