As flames engulfed the Portuguese municipality of Pedrógão Grande on 17 June 2017, and its 2,000 or so residents found themselves surrounded by the fast-moving fire, their immediate reaction might have been to escape. But 47 of the 64 people killed in Portugal’s worst-ever fire disaster died on the main road, which authorities failed to cut off on time. It is now referred to as the ‘Road of Death’. 


Months after the deadly wildfires in Pedrógão Grande – which destroyed almost 30,000 hectares of land in the local villages and close to 45,000 hectares in total – victims are still struggling to rebuild what they lost, and public anger is mounting against the government’s inaction as wildfires continue to claim lives.

Burnt trees in Pedrógão Grande ravaged by forest wildfires in June, which killed 64 people. 22 June 2017.

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Nadia Piazza lost nine members of her family in the June fires, including her five-year-old son. 6 October 2017.

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“It was a miracle [that I survived],” says Eduarda Lourenço, who lives in Cimo das Vinhas in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande. 6 October 2017.

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On 22 June 2017, less than a week after the wildfires began, a man digs graves in the village of Facaia in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande, central Portugal.

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Seventy-three-year-old Jose Vaz da Mata walks over the rubble of what used to be his small agriculture storage house in Facaia, Pedrógão Grande. 6 October 2017.

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A burnt house in the village of Facaia, Pedrógão Grande. 6 October 2017.

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Olinda Conceição Martins, 74, stands in front of her car which was destroyed in the June wildfires. Nossa Senhora da Graça, Pedrógão Grande, 6 October 2017.

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