At Least 61 Are Dead After a Raging Wildfire in Portugal

A wildfire spreading throughout central Portugal has killed at least 61 people and injured at least 54, CNN reports. With officials calling it “the greatest wildfire tragedy of recent years,” the fire’s injured victims include eight firefighters and a young child. The mass destruction led to the government’s decision to establish three days of national mourning. As of Sunday, firefighters are still trying to suppress the flames.

“We have been able to determine that the origin of the fire was caused by dry thunderstorms,” said the head of Portugal’s judiciary police, Jose Maria Almeida Rodrigues.

When the fire reached the municipality Pedrógão Grande, people tried to flee the flames, and some were caught by the flames while leaving in their cars. According to officials, the fire prevented cars from escaping and “people burned to death inside their cars.” The New York Times reports that at least 30 people died in their cars while traveling through a forested area.

Because of the fire’s range, the area is suffering from a lack of firefighters, despite the astonishing numbers of professionals reporting for duty. According to the Times, approximately 1,600 firefighters are responding to five fires in different areas, while at least 900 are stationed in Pedrógão Grande.

Without a clear end to the fires in sight, other European countries have come to Portugal’s aid. While Spain has sent two planes to assist firefighters, Christos Stylianides, the European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, announced, “The EU stands in solidarity with Portugal to help it fight fires in the country…Our thoughts are with all those affected and with the first responders who are doing their best to battle the fires.”

We’re keeping these victims and their families in mind, along with all of those still trying to escape the fires. 

Kristen is a 2017 graduate of Siena College with a degree in English and minors in Writing & Communications and Journalism. Although she constantly pines for life in London after studying there for a semester, she calls New York home for now. In addition to previously working as a writer and Senior Editor for Her Campus Siena, she has worked for Her Campus as a News and Pop Culture blogger and a national editorial intern. Currently a Nights & Weekend Editor, Kristen has previously written for New York Minute, London's Health and Fitness, and Electronic Products. She makes far too many references to "Friends" and the British royal family. Her blog, where she talks about books, TV, and film, can be found at Bookworms and Fangirls. Follow her on Twitter @kperroney.

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