Tens of thousands of hectares of burnt forest, at least 64 people killed and another 250 injured. The deadliest wildfires in Portugal’s history, in the central municipalities of Pedrógão Grande and Gois have been put out. Now begins the job of assessing the damage while looking into the cause of the blaze.
Hundreds of firemen remained on standby on Friday to ensure the blaze didn’t pick up again. Spain, France and Italy have also sent backup.
Portuguese firefighters finally bring deadly forest blaze ‘under control’ https://t.co/8L9i0oxp11 pic.twitter.com/LrlWofz2fr— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 22, 2017
It took five days to bring the flames under control because of high temperatures, bone-dry woodland, strong winds and the area’s rugged terrain.
Several investigations have been opened to assess the response to the disaster. Many people died on a country road as they tried to flee in their cars but were trapped by the flames.
Watch: #Drone footage shows aftermath of #Portugal’s deadly wildfire https://t.co/Zvi6yOspyu pic.twitter.com/SEEGbC0EOF— euronews (@euronews) June 20, 2017
The Portuguese weather agency said the fire spread so quickly because “exceptional” weather conditions created a so-called downburst – a strong wind blowing downwards that sprays embers all around.
Phone communications were also cut off in the blaze – considerably complicating rescue and firefighting efforts.
The government has promised a national fund to help the victims, and fundraisers are being set up to thank firefighters for their tireless work.
Firefighters battle blazes in central Portugal as funerals of some of 64 people killed in inferno renews anger https://t.co/XDN37lcOeT pic.twitter.com/dUjjShXqHZ— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 21, 2017