LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese officials are facing an outcry over smoke protection clothing allegedly containing inflammable material that was handed out by authorities to villagers in wildfire danger areas.
The so-called smoke bandanas, worn around the neck and pulled over the nose and mouth, are part of emergency kits distributed among villages and hamlets at risk from Portugal’s annual summer wildfire scourge.
After Portuguese media reported Friday the bandanas contain inflammable material, Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita described the reports as “alarmist.”
Civil Protection Agency deputy head Patricia Gaspar told public broadcaster RTP the bandanas are intended for quick escapes from blazes, not for fire-fighting.
Wildfires are a politically charged issue after blazes in 2017 killed at least 106 people, and the government faces a general election in two months’ time.