Probe blames poor evacuation plans in deadly Portugal fire

FILE - A Sunday, June 18, 2017 file photo of a man on the balcony of a house looings up at a forest fire raging on a hillside above the village of Avelar, central Portugal, before sunrise. News reports say Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 an independent investigation into a Portuguese forest fire that killed 64 people has found that authorities failed to evacuate villages on time. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File)

LISBON, Portugal — News reports say an independent investigation into a Portuguese forest fire that killed 64 people has found that authorities failed to evacuate villages on time.

The Diario de Noticias newspaper said investigation commission president Joao Guerreiro told reporters in Lisbon on Thursday that on June 17, officials on the ground coordinating firefighting efforts in the Pedrogao Grande municipality should have evacuated villages or ordered residents to stay indoors before 4 p.m.

He said the fire became impossible to control by 5 p.m. He was speaking after the commission presented a 300-page report to the Portuguese parliament on Thursday.

In the blaze, 47 people died on one road while trying to flee in cars.

The commission said the fire, which destroyed some 29,000 hectares, (nearly 72,000 acres) was probably caused by lightning

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