61 die in raging forest fire in Portugal

A burnt car on a road after a wildfire in Pedrogao, in central Portugal.

PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal (AP) - A raging forest fire in central Portugal sent flames sweeping over roads, killing at least 61 people, many of them trapped in their cars as they tried to flee, officials said Sunday.


The country's prime minister called it "the biggest tragedy" that Portugal has experienced in decades and declared three days of national mourning.

A huge wall of thick smoke and bright red flames towered over the top of trees in the forested Pedrogao Grande area some 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon where a lightning strike was believed to have sparked the blaze Saturday. Investigators found a tree that was hit during a "dry thunderstorm," the head of the national judicial police told Portuguese media.