English woman dies of burn injuries in Silves


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AN ENGLISH woman died on Thursday as a result of severe injuries caused by a fire.

Freda Dorothy Howells, an 80-years-old expatriate living in a villa close to the small village of Benagaia, near Alcantarilha, in the Silves district, is said to have fallen when she was helping her husband, John, repair a hose at their property.

It was understood that the couple were using a blowtorch to make the repairs and a fire was triggered when she fell.

Several neighbours who saw smoke coming from the Howells’ property at lunch time alerted the Bombeiros. The Resident was told by a spokesman for Silves Bombeiros that firefighters from Silves, Lagoa and Albufeira arrived at the scene to fight the flames, unaware of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Upon arrival, they were faced with the corpse of a woman, and immediately called the INEM emergency service.

When the INEM arrived at the villa, Casa do Monte, Freda Howells was already dead, in the middle of a burnt area of about one hectare at the back of the villa. The GNR was called to the scene by the emergency teams, as well as the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs Howells. The Resident can confirm that, four hours later, Mrs Howells was transported to the Portimão branch of Instituto de Medicina Legal, where an autopsy was due to be carried out.


John Howells, who is 77-years-old, was hiding from the fire under some trees not far from his wife. He suffered from burns to both hands and one leg and was shouting for help when the emergency teams arrived at the scene. He was taken to the Portimão Hospital, but returned home a few hours later.

The fire that had started was eventually extinguished after a helicopter was called in.

The circumstances of the woman’s death are being investigated by the PJ, whose early views are that it was an accidental death. The case file will be sent to the Public Prosecutor to analyse and decide if further investigation is needed.

As a blowtorch was found near the body, police think that the couple could have been making a bonfire, which is not allowed between July 1 and September 30.

The Resident tried to contact the Polícia Judiciária to obtain more information on the investigation, but no details were officially released before the newspaper went to press.

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