Pedrógão fire deaths “to see ‘arguidos’ for negligent homicide in October”

PJ police have found evidence of negligence in the horrific death toll of June’s Pedrógão Grande fires.

In an exclusive this morning, tabloid Correio da Manhã suggests ‘arguidos’ (official suspects) could be named as early as October.

The Public Ministry investigation “has interviewed almost 100 witnesses who have have confirmed a series of failings which led to 64 deaths in the June fire”.

“Negligence goes from emergency response, Civil Protection, to the performance of GNR agents who sent drivers onto the road of death” – the EN 236 where no less than 47 people died in scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood disaster movie.

Motorway concession holder Ascendi is also cited, says CM, for the responsibility it has to keep verges clear of vegetation.

The PJ inquiry, accompanied by the Public Ministry of Coimbra, is already at a “very advanced stage”, adds the paper, suggesting official suspects (‘arguidos’) could be cited in October.

“The objective of investigators is that the case should be concluded before the end of the year”, though investigators are “still waiting on” forensic tests.

As to the causes of the fire that raged uncontrollably for days, the PJ is described as convinced it was started by a bolt of lightening.

Arson has been discounted, despite the protestations of fire service representative Jaime Marta Soares (click here).

In its double-page spread on the news today, CM adds that of the 200 people injured in Pedrógão Grande’s fires three months ago, around 10 are still being treated in hospital.

One of these is a 43-year-old who suffered 85% burns to his body. Carlos Guerreiro was transferred to a specialist unit in Spain where he underwent skin transplants.

Says CM, his life remains “at risk”.

Meantime, government figures will be visiting the nearby area of Figueiró dos Vinhos today (Friday) to be shown the progress of a pilot scheme to recover the blackened landscape, and control soil erosion – one of the worst consequences of the devastating fire.

This is the temperature that descended on the ‘road of death’ on that terrible day in June when 47 people died, either in their cars or trying to flee on foot.

Forensic examination has concluded that the heat was simply so intense that “many victims entered spontaneous combustion”.

Eye-witnesses have told investigators of people who “just burst into flames”.

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