President of firemen’s league “convinced” crime lies behind Portugal’s killer blaze

With today officially ending Portugal’s period of national mourning for the hideous deaths and suffering caused by Pedrógão Grande’s monster blaze, the president of the country’s league of firemen has revealed he has “strong convictions” a “criminal hand” was at play.

Jaime Marta Soares has confirmed that he is ready and willing to share his information with PJ detectives probing the cause of fires that are still alight this evening – five days since Pedrógão Grande hit the headlines for the worst possible reasons.

Against news that the fires are now “dominated” – and that it is only a matter of time before they are finally extinguished – Marta Soares’ convictions come from “series of accounts” that he heard from various people, he told TSF radio this morning.

These accounts suggest the fire began in Escalos Fundeiros a full two hours before the “dry thunderstom weather phenomenon” blamed for the tragedy kicked in.

Soares stressed that now is the time for those “who have the competence to analyse the facts” to prove him wrong.

A source for the country’s PJ Judicial Police has said Soares will be called in “as quickly as possible” to explain the reasons for making his statements.

The force’s national director Almeida Rodrigues told Lusa that as far as investigations “in perfect articulation with the GNR” have determined “everything points very clearly towards natural causes.

“We even found the tree that was hit by a lightning strike”, he added.

Needless to say, Marta Soares’ timing has not been helpful. Today was the day parliament called a national minute of silence, and held a “solemn session” in honour of the 64 men, women and children who lost their lives. It was also the day the first firemen to die as a result of his injuries was buried.

As four of Gonçalo Conceição’s colleagues remain in serious condition in hospital, the questions stacking up about why so many people had to die are now multiplying.

Meantime, fire commander Vítor Vaz Pinto has guaranteed that the fires are “dominated”.

“The fire will not progress any further than it has”, he told reporters at this afternoon’s briefing. “We are going to concentrate on the interior of the perimeter. We will have some quite complicated situations but we are certain that the fire will not progress more than this”.

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Photo: Jaime Marta Soares, President of the Liga dos Bombeiros