AT LEAST 35 people have died in the wildfires that have swept northern Spain and Portugal after more than 500 fires were declared over the weekend.
A fourth person has died in Spain, a 78-year-old man with limited mobility who was trying to save his herd of goats in Carballeda de Avia (Ourense).
A state of emergency was declared in Portugal as 4,000 firefighters worked to contain the 65 fires still blazing on Monday
In Spain, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the leader of Galicia, said that many of the fires had started as acts of arson.
“The only thing we desire is that these criminals pay for what they have done,” he told a news conference.
However, it has emerged that two weeks ago, Galicia dismissed 436 forest rangers who had been hired on temporary contracts over the summer months.
When he was asked to justify the decision, Mr. Feijóo said that the risk of fire along the Atlantic coast had “lowered significantly.”
On Monday Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Galicia, travelled to his home region. Mr. Rajoy also suggested that arson was behind the fires.
“It’s impossible that this could have happened in normal conditions,” he said.
The fire in Carballeda de Avia (Ourense) led to the more than 500, mainly elderly, people being evacuated from their homes.
Mayor Luis Milia said it was ‘like the end of the world’.
“70% of the city has been burned.”
“Some people had to escape through their windows because of the speed of the fire.”
However he said there were also many people did not want to leave their homes.
“We met neighbours who said that they preferred to burn with their houses because they had nothing left.”
In the city of Vigo 400 people were evacuated from their homes including students from the university campus.
The city’s mayor has pointed out that, given the large number of outbreaks, and the distance between them, “Everything indicates that this was not accidental.”
“It is surprising, for example, a fire in the Plaza de España, which is not logical.”
— David Sierra (@davizsierra) October 16, 2017
Me he desplazado a Galicia para trasladar, en nombre de los españoles, nuestro pesar por las personas fallecidas y apoyo a los afectados pic.twitter.com/JPboBZnjww
— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) October 16, 2017