Second damning report on summer fires due today

After the initial report on the communications shambles of last summer’s forest fires where eight firemen lost their lives, government minister Miguel Macedo has revealed that a second part, itemising each separate incident, will now be analysed in detail.

It could be, the Minister for Internal Administration is quoted as saying in Correio da Manhã newspaper, that this will herald “other consequences”, but he adds that the inquiry should not be regarded as a “witch-hunt”.

The initial report, drawn up by investigator Xavier Viegas, blamed the deaths of the fire-fighters and much of the damage of last summer’s fires on “human error”.

In an article in Público newspaper this morning, his findings are further rammed home, with the allegation that there was “anarchy” in some incidences and serious failings in equipment. For example, something as simple as firemens’ boots were of such poor quality, said the report, that in certain cases climbing terrain, the men had to use their knees and hands as support. Viegas stressed that better equipment “would have made a lot of difference in the safety and even survival of some firemen” – and he concluded serious failings in training, which pointed to “a lack of basic knowledge on how fires behave”.

Speaking at the centenary celebrations of Vila Verde fire station in Braga, Miguel Macedo said the 27-page report will be studied so that civil protection services and fire brigades can learn how to avoid similar tragedies in future.