Questions Swirl Over Portugal Fire

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A firefighter battles with a fire in Pampilhosa da Serra, central Portugal.

Portugal’s N236, now dubbed the “road of death”, lies charred black from the devastating fire that swept from one side of forest to the other, trapping families and couples in their cars, and firefighters who had come to the rescue.

Road signs are burnt and unreadable, plumes of smoke rise from the ground on either side, and blackened car tracks cut across the tarmac, a grim reminder of the fierce blaze that killed 47 people among the 64 victims of the giant fires.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa has queried why the N236 “had not been closed to traffic,” according to the Lusa national news agency.

A survivor said that police directed them to the N236 as an alternative to the nearby IC8 route, which had been closed and which authorities were using themselves.

As a result, the victims would have been coming north towards Castanheira de Pera, while those leaving the pool were heading south. Somewhere along the road, the fire hit them all.

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