As the full horror of the festival fire in Castelo de Vide is splashed across the nation’s papers , criticism over organisers’ lack of preparedness is gathering pace.
According to reports, when the fire began in the dance festival’s scrubland carpark on Wednesday afternoon – rapidly spreading to hundreds of stationary vehicles – there was only one car-load of firefighters on hand, carrying four forestry sappers (sapadores), and these “had difficulty reaching the blaze”.
“The gates were closed, and they had to find metal-cutters”, Tiago Mendes told reporters.
Mendes was one of 422 people who lost their vehicles on Wednesday and are now waiting desperately for answers regarding compensation.
The blaze is already estimated to have caused at least €2 million in damages, and while festival organisers maintain they have everything covered by their insurance policy, Caixa Agrícola Seguros has already suggested that they might not.
The policy of the association that goes by the name of “Pé de Xumbo” (Foot of Lead) “could or could not be sufficient to cover the costs of damages”, a spokesperson is quoted as having said, as elsewhere the association of Portuguese insurers and consumer watchdog DECO have advised all those facing losses to “action respective insurance policies immediately”.
Meantime, the shocking ‘cemetery’ of burnt out vehicles remains in place as investigations continue.
What was originally put down to a short-circuit in one of the cars, now appears to be in doubt.
The fire could just as easily have been started by a blade of parched grass igniting in one of the cars’ exhaust pipes, explains Correio da Manhã.
Festival goers have stressed the carpark was a “powder keg” which, in the current raging summer temperatures, was in effect a disaster waiting to happen.
“There just wasn’t a tragedy because the wind was blowing away from the site”, Joel Valente from Almada told the paper. “The fire generated pandemonium, with children lost and families separated”, he added.
Other criticisms suggest fire extinguishers were not available at enough points to make a difference.
With investigations ongoing, victim Nádia Lima is organising a Facebook page (Andanças – 4º feira de cinzas) in a bid to help victims share information and
keep in touch with each other over developments.
The Resident has reproduced here one of her photos, and this link, to access more images: