Forest / Wild Fire in Portugal on October 16 2017 04:08 AM (UTC).
At least 41 people have died in Portugal, where firefighters are slowly gaining control over 15 major wildfires. The fires, which have ripped through the centre and north of the country, have been brought under control with the help of overnight rain and lighter winds. Portugal has begun three days of mourning for the victims as 71 people recover from injuries, 16 of them in a serious condition. There is one person still missing, officials have said. Jose Carlos Alexandrino, mayor of Oliveira do Hospital near Coimbra, told broadcaster RTP: "Most of the victims were killed in their cars, but we also found them inside their houses. "The whole city looked like a ball of fire, surrounded by flames on all sides." Jose Morais, a resident in the village of Vouzela, told AFP: "Everything happened in 45 minutes, the fire came to the foot of the village and spread at an incredible rate. "I had never seen anything like that before. It felt like the end of the world. Everyone fled." A senior fire officer told Portuguese news RTP: "There was a lot of rain during the night but not enough to completely put out the fire." He added that the main difficulty for firefighters was tiredness and the large area they needed to cover. This year, fire has destroyed more than 350,000 hectares of vegetation in Portugal, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. This is four times the annual average over the past decade. One of the problems is that the country has many fast-burning eucalyptus trees, used to supply the country's paper industry. The government has been criticised for its response to the situation. But Jorge Gomes, Portugal's secretary of state of internal administration, said it was "the responsibility of communities to be proactive and not wait for the firemen to fix their problems". Mr Costa stood by his comments, adding that the "country needs to realise the situation will go on for the next few years". "If you think there's a magical solution to all this," he told the Portuguese people, "you're wrong". In June, 64 people were killed in the country's worst fires.
Portugal today is in a three-day national mourning to commemorate the casualties of ongoing forest fires, the France press reported on Tuesday. The death of 36 people has been confirmed. The wounded are 63, 16 of them - in critical condition. Around 3600 firefighters are trying to contain the fifteen active outbreaks in the central and northern parts of the country. In mid-June in the central part of Portugal, in the area of Pedrogue Grande, a great forest fire broke out. 64 people died and 250 were injured.
The death toll has risen to 27 in the deadly forest fires in the north and center of Portugal and is expected to climb further, Patricia Gaspar of the National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) said on Monday, as Portugal continued to battle multiple forest fires. ANPC spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar told media that among those killed in the ravaging forest fires, 16 were in Viseu, 10 in Coimbra and one in Castelo Branco. The deadly forest fires erupted on Sunday in the north and center of the country due to the high temperature reaching 32 celsius. In Viseu, the government has declared a state of "public calamity" across the region, specifically north of the River Tagus. A total of 51 people have been confirmed injured, at least 6 seriously. Many of the injured are said to be firefighters while others are the victims of road accidents caused by people fleeing the fires. Numerous motorways and train lines have been closed and villages have been evacuated. More than 147 fires were still blazing at 11 am on Monday with 6,000 firefighters engaged. An exceptionally hot and dry October combined with strong winds brought by the mid-Atlantic storm, Hurricane Orphelia, helped create devastating wild fire conditions. But many of the fires are thought to have been started deliberately. One arsonist was caught red-handed in the town of Vale de Cambra and the Secretary of State for the Interior, Jorge Gomes, told reporters he thought farmers were partially to blame. "Pasture land is burning everywhere, that doesn't happen by accident," he said. The ANPC declared Sunday the worst day of 2017 for forest fires with over 523 recorded throughout the country. Over 260,000 hectares have burned in Portugal in 2017, almost 50 percent of the European total and double the yearly average for Portugal. With a death toll already in the high twenties, these latest fires are the worst of the year in Portugal since the Pedrogao Grande conflagration in June that claimed 64 lives.