The report released on 12th October concludes that an early warning could have prevented most of the 64 deaths recorded in the Pedrógão Grande fire.
João Guerreiro, president of the independent technical commission created to analyse the events that led to the death of 64 people in Pedrógão Grande, said on Thursday That the final conclusion is that there was a human error in the initial response of the command of operations.
The technical commission indicates, however, that there existed a set of special circumstances that serve as mitigating factors for human error, such as weather conditions.
The report concludes there was no pre-positioning of forces, nor analysis of the evolution of the situation based on the available meteorological information. in which the warning of the fire was communicated, there was no perception of the potential severity of the fire, the resources that were available were not completely mobilised and extreme weather in place up until 3:00 p.m. on June 18, (the outbreak of the fire ) resulted in an unmanageable situation “.
It also addsIn addition to the failure to combat fire, authorities were slow to realize the need to evacuate localities, given the uncontrollable nature of the fire that was brewing on several fronts.
The report is unanimous and approved by all members of the committee of experts set up by the Assembly of the Republic – experts appointed by parliamentary groups and the council of rectors.
Read a summary of what caused the fires and what failed in the response to the fires here:
The technical commission says that the fire of Pedrógão Grande was the second largest “in the history of the country since records began” and that it was caused by electrical discharge from the distribution network (power lines).
It was a fire in Portugal that “that had more energy and spread quickly (with a maximum of 4459 hectares burned in an hour),” the report reads.
The Goles fire was the eighth largest since records were issued, and it was caused by lightning.
The absence of an early warning, because the fire was not read at 18:00 hrs (and even earlier), did not prevent most fatalities.
This advance work, he adds, “Should have been done within the command and planning of this relief operation and should have resulted in the mobilization of the necessary resources, including the GNR, to prevent an escape to death, just as it happened.”
“In turn, such anticipatory work could only have been done with the support of fire analysts and specialized meteorologists to allow an adequate assessment of the situation in real time. The truth is that none of these competences exists in the National Civil Protection Authority, despite the enormous gravity and frequency of fires in Portugal, “the document states.
The report also says that, since the deaths on National Highway 236-1 occurred following the escape from the villages located east of this road, “it could have been hypothesized to cut the roads of access to EN 236-1, “which would have an outcome” probably even worse, as it would have eventually led to more casualties, including the officers themselves. ”
“Excluding this hypothesis, two measures could nevertheless have been taken, both dependent on information that the GNR did not have. It could have been ordered the timely evacuation of the threatened villages or measures could have been taken to avoid people returning to their houses”, the commission said. The President of the Commission Independent Technique however excludes any responsibility of the GNR in driving cars to National Road 236, where dozens of people died.
In its view, any of those decisions should have resulted from “an appropriate analysis of the situation in order to predict the potential behaviour of the fire which started more than five hours before.”
The technical commission also questions why it a helicopter was not immediately mobilized for the fire of Góis that was available and parked in Pampilhosa da Serra, since “was much closer” than the helicopter which was called, which was in Ferreira do Zêzere.
It is also questioned why a helicopter was not mobilized for the fire of Pedrógão Grande that was available in the Pombal.
“The decisions taken could have been other, if there had been quicker mobilization of the helicopter stationed in the Pombal CMA and if it had been considered, from the outset, that the parishes of the municipality of Pedrógão Grande were referred to as priority parishes, this presenting a significant potential risk, “is explained.
In reviewing “the readiness of the forest fire defence system,” the commission states that “the inability to recognize and / or respond timely and adequately to the weather conditions that would be faced on 17th is tragic” in the case of Pedrógão Grande, in the district of Leiria.