A FIRE in a house situated in Faro’s historic centre, which broke out last Saturday evening, led to the deaths of four people, two of them children. Only two people survived the tragedy. The exact cause of the fire, which began at 6pm and lasted 45 minutes, is still unknown, but a full investigation by the authorities is underway.
The victims, Guadalupe Tadeu Pires Sousa Gomes, seven, Guilherme Afonso Nobre Pires Benvindo, 11, Dulce Maria Nobre Pires, 60, and José Luís Tadeu de Sousa Gomes, 50, are thought to have become trapped by a blanket of fire which prevented them from leaving the house via the door on the road side. Three of the victims were found in the bathroom, another in the yard.
Only Luísa, the mother of Guilherme, and sister Manuela, wife of José Luís and mother of Guadalupe, survived. The occupants of the first floor, an elderly couple, also had a lucky escape – they had been away visiting relatives for the weekend.
The house, located at number eight, is close to the historic centre’s famous Arca da Vila, just a few metres from the Câmara building and the office of the Civil Governor.
Sixteen firefighters and six fire engines were at the scene fighting the flames, but, according to a source close to the family, “the relatives are revolted at the time it took the emergency services to fight the flames”. However, Augusto Miranda, responsible for security and civil protection in Faro, guaranteed that, “the emergency services are performing to standard”.
Technicians from Faro Câmara and from the municipal civil protection team have been assessing the condition of the building to see if there is structural damage that could make it a threat to public safety. If this is the case, the two-floor building, which incidentally is over 100-years-old, will need to be pulled down.
Around 150 people live within Faro’s historic centre, in very old buildings that present increased risk of fires due to the fact that wood is one of the main materials used in their construction.