Public asked to be vigilant
Calling on the public to be “attentive and collaborative with authorities”, Leiria’s councillor for civil protection has said that the fires that have battered the Caranguejeira area “are not the work of chance”.
“We are not convinced that it is the work of chance and, as such, we appeal once again for the public to be attentive and to collaborate with any information that may be useful, so that the investigation process is faster”, said Luís Lopes (PS) in a ‘briefing’ that took place this morning.
Lopes highlighted the “frequency of fires” that have flared up in Leiria and Ourém – noting that there has been “coordination between of the two municipalities and with the security forces “.
“It is something that has been a constant, but we will still maintain this attention in the coming days.
“What we ask is that everyone remains attentive, that they collaborate with the security forces that will remain on the ground, with the firefighters and, above all, that they remain vigilant and also help us to monitor the territory and safeguard everyone’s heritage, because we know perfectly well that the next few days will be complicated “, he added.
Lopes stresses there have been “several ignitions” – some simultaneous, others “practically consecutive” – between Leiria and Ourém. The GNR (National Guard) and the Judicial Police (the country’s main criminal investigation agency) have been on the ground for five days, since this phenomenon was first flagged. “The information we have is that there is no person referenced nor are there strong indications to reach a conclusion”, said Lopes. But that doesn’t mean police won’t keep trying. “At the moment, we have no indication that (investigations) will be resolved in the coming days, which logically also concerns us “, he said.
Lopes added that “if it is not possible to stop these ignition sources” the entire firefighting unit on the ground is nonetheless prepared ”so that the resolution can be achieved in a timely manner”.
Carlos Guerra, sub-regional commander of Leiria emergency and civil protection service, also highlighted the “abnormal aspect” of so many fires in the same area, saying “human behaviour has had very bad consequences”.
“I remind you that two occurrences, both in Caranguejeira and Arrabal, started at exactly the same time. As the councillor said, it was certainly not the work of chance”, he agreed.
The two fires began within the space of a minute. According to Carlos Guerra, a rough total of 450 hectares were consumed.