62 dead in central Portugal wildfires; many killed in cars   – Orange County Register


By HELENA ALVES and ARMANDO FRANCA

AVELAR, Portugal — Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 62 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called “the biggest tragedy” the country has experienced in years.

Portugal has declared three days of national mourning for the victims in the blaze “which has caused an irreparable loss of human life,” according to a government statement.

A lightning strike is believed to have sparked the blaze in the Pedrogao Grande area after investigators found a tree that was hit during a “dry thunderstorm,” the head of the national judicial police told Portuguese media. Dry thunderstorms are frequent when falling water evaporates before reaching the ground because of high temperatures. Portugal, like most southern European countries, is prone to forest fires in…



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