Dozens killed in Portugal fire

By TPN/PA, in News · 18-06-2017 09:27:00 · 5 Comments
Dozens killed in Portugal fire

At least 43 people have been killed in forest fires raging through central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometres north-east of the capital Lisbon.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said 16 people died in their cars on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, while 23 others have been killed elsewhere.

A number of firefighters have been injured while tackling the flames. Televised images showed a huge wall of flames leaping over the top of trees in the wooded region.

The fires come amid a heatwave in Portugal which has seen temperatures soar to 40C in recent days.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa has described the situation as a "tragedy of a big dimension".

He said authorities are working to identify the victims, and Spanish rescuers are to help efforts to put out the fires.

The PM said firefighters are having difficulties in approaching the area because the flames are "very intense".

He said investigations are ongoing to determine the cause, but authorities believe the high temperatures may have played a part.

Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrogao Grande, said: "This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions.

"I am completely stunned by the number of deaths."


So very sad to see this beautiful area of Portugal devastated by these terrible fires. Sincerely hope and prey there are no more deaths. Thank you to all the brave services helping to protect everyone.

by Tony Woods from Algarve on 19-06-2017 10:01:00

Prayers and thoughts go out to those who are lost, missing and seeking. Do not give up hope.

by Celest from UK on 18-06-2017 10:24:00

The relative humidity has been low and contributes to fires. To raise relative humidity one could have floating spray pumps in the sea. The pumps could be operated by wave motion. The air will become humidified and when there is a sea breeze the moist air will blow over the land increasing relative humidity. One could plow the sand near the waves so that water remained in shallow furrows to heat and evaporate. One could put black netting on the sand to be made wet by waves and heat up in the sun so that evaporation occurs and so on. Evaporation depends on the water temperature, the wind speed, the temperature of the air and the relative humidity. Most of the sun penetrates the water and enters deep (especially the visible portion-the infrared portion is absorbed more quickly). You can heat the surface of the sea if you make it dirty or dark with plankton, because all the energy goes into the surface layer of the sea. By plowing sand you increase the surface area and you decrease albedo so more energy is absorbed from the sun (not reflected as much). By making a spray over the sea you increase surface area for evaporation. When there is more evaporation the air cools and becomes more dense and is more likely to blow onto land, especially with a sea breeze. See also Using an evaporation equation from engineering toolbox gives me that one could increase evaporation from the sea by more than 10% by raising the temperature of the sea surface by two degrees C. Perhaps iron ore dust could be put in the sea to make it dark and perhaps feed algae. But I am not much good at biology.According to Weather Spark about 7.5 kWh per square metre per day falls on the sea near Lisbon. 1kWh can evaporate 1.6 litres (kg) of water. 7.5*1.6=12 kg of water,which is enough to increase a kilometre high column of air above the 1 square metre of sea significantly. At a temperature of 30 deg C and a relative humidity of 45% a column of air 1000 m high with base of 1 square metre has 13.7 kg of water vapour in. At the same temperature and a relative humidity of 85% the same column has 25.7 kg of water in - 12 kg more (that could be supplied by evaporation in a day). Calculated using 100 kPa pressure for the whole column - not very accurate, but close enough.

by Eddie Miller from Other on 18-06-2017 03:29:00

62 killed and 57 ingered

by Maria from Lisbon on 18-06-2017 01:30:00

As an Australian who has seen many such tragic wild fires, I pray that relief comes soon.

My sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who have perished in the fires, and my greatest admiration for the heroism of those who fight the fires.

by Max from Other on 18-06-2017 10:01:00
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.