Portugal Charges 12 Over Huge Wildfire That Killed 66 People

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Prosecutors in Portugal are bringing charges of criminally negligent homicide against 12 defendants over the deaths of 66 people in a major wildfire last year.

At Pedrogao Grande, 200 kilometers (120 miles) northeast of Lisbon, 47 people died in their cars as they fled the flames in June 2017. Investigators allege the municipal road they used was not properly maintained and had dense woodland running close along it.

A prosecutors’ statement Thursday said those facing charges include three local councilors and a council employee, three executives for a road maintenance company, three commanders from the government’s Civil Protection Agency and two executives at a power company.

Fire investigators believe the blaze began at a power line and spread fast due to strong winds and high temperatures amid a severe drought.

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