The extreme heat wave, with the hottest days in June since 1950, has increased the risk of fires and is making it difficult to fight those that have already caught fire. Practically all of Spain is at very high or extreme risk of fire or on notice due to high temperatures, according to Aemet, which predicts that tomorrow, Friday, the danger of burning will be even worse.
Three fires are currently active in Catalonia, where the Generalitat has described the situation as “maximum seriousness” and predicts “a very complicated summer”. The fires have charred a total of more than 1,600 hectares, in Corbera d’Ebre (Tarragona), Castellar de la Ribera and Artesa de Segre (Lleida), where 155 crews work, with the support of the Military Emergency Unit in the case of Castellar. Firefighters have focused this Thursday on extinguishing the first two and confining the third.
The flames have also complicated the day in Castilla y León. In Zamora, where the firefighting services have highlighted how “the accumulation of fires” and the wind make the extinguishing work difficult, especially in the Sierra de la Culebra. The spokesman for the Board, Carlos Fernández Carriedo, stressed that the fact that there are multiple fires, with changing fires, makes it difficult to extinguish fires that have already destroyed 400 hectares of pine forests and 200 of scrubland and chestnut trees.
In Navarra, the fire in the Sierra de Leyre, which forced the eviction of most of the monks from the Leyre monastery, has been stabilized. The firefighters fight so that it does not revive. In Aragon, a fire has broken out in Valderrobles (Teruel), which has forced the eviction of a camping where three teachers and 32 children were staying.
In the Andalusian community, the Almonaster la Real (Huelva) fire has been considered stabilized, but the Infoca troops continue to fight by land and air in another declared this Thursday in Padul (Granada). The largest fire declared in recent weeks, that of Pujerra (Málaga), was controlled this Wednesday after destroying some 3,500 hectares, but another has been declared in Algatocín.
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Two fires are registered in Galicia in Larouco (Orense), where some 110 hectares have been burned, and in La Rioja the fire in Peña Isasa (Prájeno), caused by lightning, has been controlled, while in the Valencian Community this fire was registered Wednesday about twenty fireworks, including one in Yátova, declared late this Thursday afternoon.
These days Spain is experiencing an exceptionally hot June, in which, for example, the record for the warmest day of that month has been broken in Albacete since 1940 or in which temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees in 17 provinces. Data from the network of AEMET stations, collected by Servimedia, indicate that the Albacete air base marked a maximum temperature of 41º this Thursday, four tenths more than the previous record, which dated from June 23, 2001.
With this sizzling panorama, which will not begin to loosen until at least Sunday, practically all of Spain is on a yellow or orange warning due to high temperatures. Only Galicia, large areas of Andalusia, the Cantabrian and Mediterranean coasts are spared. There are several areas of special risk, which are concentrated in the central border between Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha, areas of the Tagus Valley and a block that includes Navarra, part of Aragon, almost all of Catalonia (not the coasts), and part of The Rioja.
As a consequence, the updated forest fire risk map for this Thursday indicates that most of the interior of the peninsula and the island of Mallorca are at extreme risk (red). The very high risk (orange) is for some areas also inland, while the moderate (green) or low (blue) risk of forest fires is only for Galicia, the coast of Andalusia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castellón, Valencia and western Andalusia and Extremadura, as well as large parts of the Canary Islands and the Balearic islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca. The situation tends to worsen this Friday.
This is how the main active fires in Spain are found:
Three active fires in Catalonia
Catalonia faces this Thursday several fires that burn at the same time, in an unusual situation of extreme temperatures in mid-June. There are three major fires advancing out of control: in Corbera d’Ebre (Tarragona), Artesa de Segre (Lleida) and Castellar de la Ribera, in Solsonès, province of Lleida. The simultaneity of fronts puts in check the response capacity of the Fire Department of the Generalitat. The Catalan Government has warned of the seriousness of the situation and all available firefighters have been notified to be on guard. During the early hours of this Thursday, more than a hundred troops from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) of the Ministry of Defense, arrived from Zaragoza and Valencia, have joined the extinction tasks in Artesa. “Anything that can be added to put out fires as soon as possible will be welcome”, underlined Bernat Solé, delegate of the Government in Lleida. The Government delegate in Catalonia, Maria Eugènia Gay, has confirmed that given the uncertainty generated by the alert scenario, collaboration is total and the relationship between administrations is “extraordinary”.
Lightning sets fire to the Sierra de la Culebra, in Zamora
A fire declared on Wednesday in the Sierra de la Culebra, west of Zamora, has required the intervention of the UME, forced to multiply. The first estimates suggest that the fire was caused by a lightning strike in that area of expanding groves, since on Wednesday afternoon there were multiple storms with electrical equipment in Castilla y León, reports John Navarro. The operation deployed in the area covers a perimeter area of 700 hectares, in the municipalities of Vega del Castillo, Sarracín de Aliste, Ferreras de Arriba and Ferreras de Abajo, although the Board has specified that the forecasts are for an “increase” due to the dangerous conditions. The Workers’ Commissions are going to denounce to the Prosecutor’s Office that the regional government does not consider the current situation to be a high risk of fire, but rather “medium” and that it is governed by a 1999 criterion to determine that value of medium danger and not high until July 1 . The union considers that the Board should have increased the level of attention to have more resources available in an “extreme risk” scenario, according to the Spanish Meteorology Agency, and has criticized an attitude that “is especially reckless in the current circumstances and puts in danger to the workers of the operation”. An operator of a heavy machine has been injured during the tasks to open firebreaks.
The fires in Navarra, in the stabilization phase
The work of extinguishing the fires declared in the Sierra de Leyre and in the area of Tafalla and Larraga continue and the next 48 hours are “critical”, experts estimate, since the alert continues in Navarra due to high temperatures, to which the dryness of the environment, the vegetation and the wind are added. During the day yesterday, Wednesday, five fires started simultaneously in Navarra, the largest in Larraga and the most complicated in Leyre. The latter is under control, but firefighters fear that it will flare up with the rise in temperatures throughout the day, reports Amaia Otazú. This means that “we are still alert and we are working with as much intensity as we did yesterday”, declared Vice President Javier Remírez before the start of the plenary session of Parliament, who yesterday held a meeting at the advanced command post with the director of the Service Firefighters, Pedro Zaro, and those responsible for the operation to learn about the evolution of the Leyre fire and the tasks being carried out to control it. This Thursday morning, as he has indicated, the fire that had been declared in Olleta can be “considered controlled” and efforts are focused especially on the Sierra de Leyre and in the area of Tafalla and Larraga. Firefighters conclude that the fires in the region are in the stabilization phase.
High temperatures are more dangerous in younger children and the elderly, although combating them is simple: stay hydrated and avoid exertion in the middle of the day
The investigation indicates that some work with machinery on a farm is the origin of the fire that has devastated more than 3,500 hectares in the province of Malaga
The Army joins the extinction tasks and the Generalitat mobilizes all firefighters to fight the fires in Artesa, Corbera d’Ebre and Castellar de la Ribera.
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