Remnants of the latest hurricane of the record setting 2017 season has been causing death and destruction on the other side of the Atlantic. At least 36 people have died from devastating wild fires in Portugal started and fanned by tropical storm Ophelia’s 100 mph plus winds. Three people in Spain and three in Ireland also died as a result of the storm.
Portugal has declared three days of national mourning, beginning on Tuesday, for the victims of wildfires that raged across the country.
The deaths in Portugal occurred after hundreds of fires spread across central and northern areas on Sunday and Monday. They started in dry conditions and fanned by strong Atlantic winds from Hurricane Ophelia,
Across the border in Spain, at least three people died in wildfires in the Galicia region. The number of fires prompted Portugal to declare a state of emergency in areas north of the river Tagus – almost half its landmass.
Prime Minister António Costa issued a statement on what he called the largest wave of fires the country had experienced since 2006. He said his cabinet would meet on Saturday to adopt recommendations of a report on fire prevention commissioned after a blaze in June that killed 64 people. “After this year, nothing should remain as it was before,” he said.
Rain helped to quench many fires late on Monday , though more than a dozen still burned overnight, Portuguese officials say
Residents said they had little time to react. “The fire came at the foot of the village and spread at an incredible rate,” Jose Morais, who lives in Vouzela in the Viseu region, told AFP news agency.
“It felt like the end of the world. Everyone fled”.
Among Portugal’s dead was a one-month old baby, local media outlets reported, and several people were still missing. In Spain’s Galicia region, two of the three victims were found together in a burned-out car on the roadside.