Spain and Portugal had to confront national hazards over the weekend in the shape of raging fires. The phenomena are linked to Hurricane Ophelia. The strong Atlantic winds carried the blazes all the way to central and northern areas in Portugal. Within hours, fires spread on Sunday and Monday across the nations, engulfing the Galicia region across the border in Spain. At least 36 people lost their lives to the late season wildfires, including an infant.
Portuguese Authorities Suspect the Majority of Fires as the Result of Criminal Intent
On Monday, the Portuguese National Authority for Civil Protection announced that 4,000 firefighters are battling the blazes of 523 wildfires. The death toll reached 36 confirmed cases while 63 Portuguese citizens are injured. Other 16 people are fighting for their lives. Spain reported three deaths in the region of Galicia.
A hot dry summer prepared the conditions of such a massive catastrophe while Hurricane Ophelia only boosted the phenomenon’s lethality. This is how Portugal confronted one of the most severe cases of wildfire in history.
The high number of cases that extended far beyond the first thousand urged authorities to announce a state of emergency. Almost half of its territory north of the river Tagus is considered as the battleground of such a national disaster.
The secretary of state of internal administration, Jorge Gomes, claimed people as culprits of the majority of wildfires. These circumstances are not only fitting arson profiles but also poor forest management. Oblivious individuals abandoned debris which are easily catching fire or intensifying the blaze.
Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, supports suspicions of criminal intent. Authorities are looking into the extent to which arsonists were involved in the national catastrophe.
“What we are seeing here doesn’t happen accidentally. This has been induced.”
The Late Season Wildfires Brought This Year’s Death Toll to a Record Number in History
Portugal was just recovering from this summer’s blaze that caused 64 casualties in one night. The current event coupled with its early wave of wildfires amounted to 99 deaths. Therefore, this year’s death toll is officially a record one encompassing the 1966 disaster that caused 25 victims.
Portugal authorities promised to spare no resources in putting down the late season wildfires. They also claimed they are going to take the necessary measures to prevent any future repetition of such large-scale catastrophe.
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