Wildfires continue to cause evacuations in Portugal

Portugal Fire Destruction

Above: screen grab from Wall Street Journal video.

(Published at 11:50 a.m. MDT June 19, 2017)

The wildfires in Portugal are continuing to spread, forcing residents to leave their homes. Approximately 1,000 firefighters are battling the fires that have killed at least 62 people, including a firefighter who died in a hospital.

weather forecast for Coimbra, Portugal
The weather forecast for Coimbra, Portugal. Weatherunderground.

Below is an excerpt from a BBC article:

Twelve people survived one of Portugal’s deadliest fires by seeking refuge in a water tank after access to their village was cut off by the blaze.

The residents, including a disabled 95-year-old woman, spent more than six hours in the tank as the fire prevented them from being rescued.

[In the village of Mó Grande] 30 bodies were found inside cars, with another 17 next to the vehicles, on the N-236 road, which leads on to the IC8 motorway. The N-236 was being described as the “road of death” in Portuguese media.

A few kilometres north of Nodeirinho, 11 people died in the village of Pobrais. Local reports said a third of the population had lost their lives, many as they tried to escape the fire. A survivor spoke of the roads being blocked and of no-one coming to their aid.

And from the Business Insider:

Despite government assurances that the first response by the emergency services was swift and adequate, many media and residents questioned the efficiency of the operation and the strategic planning in a country which is used to wooded areas burning every year.

“So what failed this Saturday? 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.

map fires wildfires Portugal
The red dots represent wildfire heat detected by a satellite over Portugal June 19, 2017.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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One thought on “Wildfires continue to cause evacuations in Portugal”

  1. Ah, according to the BBC, one reasons the fires were so fierce, aside from weather, was they have been planting a lot of eucalyptus there—it’s not the native oaks, etc.

    “Much of the area in flames is dominated by eucalyptus, an Australian species introduced to Europe in the 18th Century but which really boomed in Portugal with the rise of paper industries in the mid-20th Century.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40341180

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