AP NEWS

Portugal remembers 66 victims from deadly year for wildfires

June 17, 2018
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People leave a church, Sunday, June 17 2018, after attending a mass to mark the first anniversary of a wildfire that killed 66 people, in Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal. Sunday marks the one year anniversary since a blaze began near the town of Pedrogao Grande that grew into one of the biggest blazes of an unprecedented year of deadly wildfires that brought over 100 deaths. (AP Photo/Sergio Azenha)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s president and prime minister have attended a Mass in a rural town to mark the anniversary of a wildfire that killed 66 people.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa joined other government members and scores of local people Sunday at a small church in Pedrogao Grande, which is located about 200 kilometers (120 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

A fire that began near the town of 4,000 people grew into one of Portugal’s biggest blazes of 2017, an unprecedented year for deadly wildfires that brought 106 deaths.

At Pedrogao Grande, 47 people died in their cars as they fled the flames.

The president also was unveiling a memorial monument and meeting with survivors.

The Portuguese government says it is working to upgrade the country’s firefighting capabilities.

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This version has been corrected to show that the number of people who died in 2017 wildfires was 106, not 116.

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People leave a church, Sunday, June 17 2018, after attending a mass to mark the first anniversary of a wildfire that killed 66 people, in Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal. Sunday marks the one year anniversary since a blaze began near the town of Pedrogao Grande that grew into one of the biggest blazes of an unprecedented year of deadly wildfires that brought over 100 deaths. (AP Photo/Sergio Azenha)