Published: Sat, June 24, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Portuguese firefighters battling forest fire

Portuguese firefighters battling forest fire

These forest fires have become one of the most fatal in recent memories. Some 60 forest fires broke out on Saturday night across Portugal, killing at least 57 people and injuring at least 59 others.

Three days national mourning was declared on the occasion that ends on Tuesday. Four of the firefighters are in critical condition Sunday, according to Paulo Santos, an operations and emergencies official with the National Relief Operations Command in Lisbon.

But many victims died on the road, trapped in their cars by the blaze.

However, some of the wildfires are still racing through inaccessible parts of hill ranges about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed sadness over the death of 62 people in the wildfires fires that hit the Pedrógão Grande region of Portugal in Sunday. Like more than half of the dead in Saturday's blaze, Daniel Starling had jumped in his vehicle and raced away as the flames bore down.

Authorities said the number of victims may rise as firefighters inspect the villages affected.

"Our pain is huge", said Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The fire, which was still burning at the time of this article, spread rapidly on four fronts, creating five separate firestorms which raged through the small European country. France and Spain have sent planes to help mitigate the blaze, the European Commission said.

"We are most likely facing the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known", he said.

Trump reaches out to lawmakers on healthcare as another says 'no'
They'd prefer a block grant or a fixed pot of money for states to cover the lowest income residents in a way they see fit. Dean Heller on Friday afternoon that he is not on board with Senate leadership's health care bill probably spoiled them.

Portuguese authorities have evacuated the district emergency plans and national contingency plan in the night of the 17th and requested global assistance from the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism for aircraft support.

"Overwhelmed by the tragedy of Pedrogao Grande".

Speaking in the Vatican, Pope Francis, who visited Portugal last month, mentioned the victims in his weekly address.

Local town hall chief Valdemar Alves, speaking shortly before the death toll was made official, said there were villages which were "completely surrounded by flames and in great danger".

"We found the tree hit by the lightning", he said.

The Portuguese Football Federation changed its Twitter avatar to black to mourn the victims of the fire.

But Paulo Fernandes, a forest researcher at Portugal's Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro University, notes that around 90 percent of landowners have smallholdings, making it hard for authorities to oversee them all. "Everything, as it has failed for decades", read a headline in the daily Publico, which blamed a lack of coordination between services in charge of fire prevention and firefighting and poor forestry reserve planning. Strong winds also added to the unsafe conditions.

At their height, 156 forest fires drew almost 1,700 firefighters to try to contain them. An additional 17 bodies were found near the road, with some speculating that those people were attempting to flee from their trapped cars before they met their tragic fate.

Like this: