Pedrogão Grande

Two years on from Pedrógão Grande’s deadly fires, and “everything still needs to be done”

“An authentic powder keg”: two years on from the devastating fires of Pedrógão Grande that killed 66 people one of the principal campaigners for ‘justice’ Nádia Piazza claims “”everything still needs to be done”.

The interior region remains desperately vulnerable to wildfires with eucalyptus regeneration uncontrolled; more than 1000 people need their homes rebuilt, more than 5000 farmers haven’t received compensation for their losses – in short, “people feel abandoned”.

Piazza was speaking at the special memorial held today in Castanheira de Pera, and attended by many dignitaries, including prime minister António Costa and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

President of the association of victims of Pedrógão Grande, Piazza stressed how necessary it is for the community and authorities to work together. Laws need to be passed, it’s time to stop political game-playing and address an issue that isn’t going away, she said.

As newspapers have explained, forestry reform “has not reached Pedrógão Grande”.

The victims’ association is fed up with waiting quietly and has now launched a popular action against the government, which has been delivered to the Public Ministry, the Ombudsman and President Marcelo.

The action centres on a round-up of cases that should not be happening: issues where people have been left high and dry, with no help or compensation when others have benefitted from total rebuilds.

Says tabloid Correio da Manhã, “the movement supporting these victims considers the majority of cases shocking in a State of Law, guaranteeing that millions of euros of work have been directly contracted” (ie not put out to public tender) “without being executed, or properly checked”.

Some of the situations have seen homes handed over to fire victims, “without water, electricity or any kind of mains drainage”.

Today, exactly two years on from the “holocaust” that hit Pedrógão Grande and nearby communities, little more has been said about the ‘movement associated with the support of victims of the fires’.

Stories are more focused on remembering the dead, and describing a memorial that has been commissioned in their honour.

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