The President of the Republic acknowledged this Wednesday, in Figueiró dos Vinhos, that there is still much to do in terms of territorial cohesion in the municipalities most affected by the Pedrógão Grande fires of June 17, 2017.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who attended the religious celebrations that marked the three years of the tragedy that killed 66 people in that district of Leiria, said that “we would all wish” that the socio-economic development of the affected territories “would appear faster and more vigorously”.
“This has not always happened, despite the efforts made and, therefore, we must recognize that there is much more to be done, here in particular, for territorial cohesion, which is a bet for the future”, stressed the head of state.
For the President of the Republic, the fires of June 2017 represented a “lesson in territorial cohesion”, in that it served as a “call to attention for so many Portuguese who live far away and started to perceive and understand inequalities a little better, the asymmetries, the situation so discriminated, in economic and social terms, of parts of the national territory “.
The violent fire that broke out in the early afternoon of 17 June 2017, exactly three years ago, in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande, district of Leiria, caused the death of 66 people, in the deadliest fire recorded in Portugal.
Today, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, marked the date when he participated at 11:00 am in a mass in Figueiró dos Vinhos, a neighboring municipality to Pedrógão Grande and which was also hit by the flames.
Also the minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, participates in the mass, in the church of the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Carmo.
The Pedrógão Grande fire also caused the destruction of half a thousand homes and 50 companies, in addition to hundreds of injured.
More than two thirds of the fatalities (47 people) were in vehicles and were surrounded by flames on the National Road 236-1, between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiró dos Vinhos, in the northern interior of the district of Leiria, or in access to that route.
Estimates made shortly after the fires indicated that damage to the forest would exceed 83 million euros, while damage to housing amounted to more than 27.6 million euros, in industry and tourism to close to 31.2 million euros. euros, in agriculture to 20 million euros and in other economic activities to more than 27.5 million euros.
The damage caused to municipal infrastructure was then estimated at around 20 million euros and on the national road network at around 2.6 million euros.
In October of the same year, several fires that mainly affected the Center region caused the death of 50 people.
The Council for the award of compensation to the victims of the Pedrógão Grande and October 2017 fires fixed, at the end of November of that year, the minimum value for life deprivation at 70 thousand euros.
The deaths caused by the Pedrógão fire led the Coimbra Department of Investigation and Criminal Action to open an investigation that investigated the responsibilities in the fire.
The process of rebuilding the burnt houses also led the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Coimbra to open an investigation.
The investigation resulted in an indictment against 28 defendants for the alleged practice of 20 crimes of fraud, 20 crimes of malfeasance of the holder of political office, 20 crimes of falsification of documents, a crime of computer fraud and a crime of false declarations.
On June 7, 2019, the Assembly of the Republic unanimously approved a draft resolution that enshrines June 17 as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Forest Fires.