Speed Reads

Blame game

Officials in Portugal and Spain suspect arson in fires that left 41 dead

Portugal began three days of national mourning Tuesday for the victims of the wildfires that have spread across the Iberian Peninsula. At least 37 have died in Portugal, as well as four across the border in Spain.

Monday night rain and cooler temperatures helped to bring fires under control, but officials are blaming more than just the weather for igniting the blazes. Iberian officials said investigators are looking into suspected arson to explain the strength of the fires.

"We are ready to extinguish fires, but we are not ready for arsonists," said Spanish Environment and Agriculture Minister Isabel Garcia Tejerina.

Frustration is mounting as the last of the wildfires are extinguished, as many question why the Portuguese government was unprepared for such an event. Portugal has had a rough year; another set of wildfires killed more than 60 people just months ago.

CBS reported that Portugal reduces its firefighting force by half in October, when peak wildfire season comes to an end. Now government officials are hearing sharp criticism from opposition parties, who say the country should have been prepared for the late-season heat wave and high winds that spread fires over the nation's landmass.

Spain's Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the regional president of Galicia, echoed the sentiment, referring to the fires as "terrorist acts" in a tweet Monday. "A day like yesterday is not the result of chance," he wrote.