Volunteer Firefighter International

Portugal: Volunteer Chief Dies, Firefighter Badly Hurt in ‘Easy Fire’

One source sites lack of coordination with incident command and not having a full crew as to why things turned deadly

By Natasha Donn, Portugal Resident

An experienced fire chief died last night – and three other firefighters were injured, one of them seriously – in a blaze in the Serra de Lousã that ‘should have been easy’ to combat.

Investigation is now underway as the President and prime minister have both lamented the tragedy, sending condolences to the dead man’s family.

Say reports, the situation is all the more poignant for the fact that no-one saw it coming.

This was a “normal” forest fire, said a source for firefighters on the ground – not far from areas devastated in the 2017 blazes around Castanheira de Pêra/ Pedrógão Grande that killed 66 people. What seems to have ‘gone wrong’ is that repeated calls by the men encircled by flames took far too long to respond to.

Says Expresso: “They were calling for help for 20 minutes…”

A source told the paper: “This was an easy fire. If they had followed protocol no-one would have died. This was down to the lack of experience of National Command. It’s important that everyone listens to the communications (in which the men can be heard desperately asking for help) to learn what has to be avoided if this kind of situation happens again”.

The office of the ministry for interior administration has already opened an inquiry, lamenting the “tragic moment” for volunteer firefighters who “generously integrate the national effort to defend our forests from fires”.

The dead man has been named as volunteer firefighter José Augusto Dias, 55, attached to the Mirando do Corvo fire station and an employee of the local council.

Image: Portugal Resident

Read the full story here.

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