For almost four years, the ex-president of the National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) responded silently to the accusations that the entity he presided over, with regard to fighting the Pedrógão Grande fire. The silence has now been broken because the judicial investigation is complete.

On the 24th of this month, from what I think I know, it will be the beginning of the trial and, therefore, it is the moment for the country to know the truth of what happened ”, Joaquim Leitão told TVI.

And from the outset, it highlights the lack of means to deal with a fire of gigantic dimensions. And it was not for lack of warning: at the beginning of the year, Civil Protection alerted the tutelage to the need to reinforce planes, helicopters and operations.

We knew it was an atypical year, we knew it was a different year and so we made a whole plan of additional means that, unfortunately, it was not possible to obtain them, but that – and for the good of the country – in 2018 it was already possible see them on the ground, “he explained.

In an exclusive interview with TVI, the former official notes that these same means emerged after the fire and refutes serious failures in fighting the fire that spread through several counties. In his view, only the efforts of rescue workers prevented even greater consequences.

If it were not in fact a commitment from the entire rescue structure – not only from the National Civil Protection Authority at the time – but also from all commanders and fire departments and all the women and men who worked hard in that theater of operations, if maybe the consequences of what happened would be worse ”.

In the analysis of the former president of ANPC, the lack of means, the very adverse weather conditions and the lack of prevention were the main causes of the rapid spread of the fire.

Aid must only act when prevention fails and, therefore, aid cannot be blamed for the incompetence of prevention and read until the great measures of the Government – and very well – that were developed from 2017 were precisely to bet 100% in prevention ”, pointed out Joaquim Leitão.

The former president of ANPC is also a man marked by what happened in June 2017. He does not forget the difficult moments he lived when the information on the existence of fatalities happened in communications to the command.

It was distressing. We know at the minute of the victims that were appearing. We were always on top of what was happening on the ground. It was terrible that we needed more means, we needed more conditions and we had to fight with what we had. I can assure the victims’ relatives that the suffering of all and everyone who was in this fire is with them ”, he concluded.

It is recalled that the Pedrógão Grande fire killed 64 people. The trial is scheduled to start on Monday.


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