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Further Fires Blaze Across Spain

Source: Mr Grumpy - Mon 22th Aug 2011

Stoicism and defiance are easy words to use when it comes to describing those trying to defend their homes and property against approaching forest fire.

However, after witnessing such a blaze on my own doorstep, I think that helplessness and panic would be much more appropriate words.

I was personally caught up in one such fire in my local village of Lliber on the Northern edge of the Costa Blanca last night.

Like so many other areas of Spain we have had little rain since early June - almost 11 weeks ago. This, combined with the unusually high temperatures of late - often as high as 38 Degrees, has dried the scrub on the mountains surrounding the valley to an almost tinder-like state.

Late yesterday afternoon a fire began and within minutes had spread thanks to a breeze that made the fire move in two different directions - one moving towards the nearby Town of Jalon, and the other towards the Town of Gata de Gorgos. Two Helicopters and two aeroplanes were soon on the scene to support ground-based units, however, due the inaccessibility of the location it soon became apparent that the fight would have to be lead from the air.

An hour later and most of the hillside had been charred with an estimated six hectares of land being destroyed. The fire was nowhere near close to being under control, but the air support had to be called off due to safety concerns over falling daylight.

By Nine o'clock, the two fronts of the fire had dispersed and fire crews on the ground could only wait by the accessible neighbouring properties to do their best to protect them as they could.

By Midnight the wall of fire that looked to threaten the Town of Jalon had burned itself out, but the more serious of the two was still burning strong and heading down the narrow ravine of the Raco Gorgos where a number of properties were located. The valley itself is notoriously dry and has been the victim of a number of such fires over recent years. With just one narrow road winding through the valley accessibility looked likely to become a problem both for those escaping the fire, and the services trying to get to it.

Guardia Officers evacuated the area, and even now many families have been unable to return to their homes.

At first light the two helicopters rejoined the fight and smoke could still be seen coming from the smouldering hillside. The flames had gone, but the fire crews remained to ensure that the fire would not resurrect itself.

There is still scant news about the extent of the damage caused, due in part to the remoteness of the valley, the fact that much of the fire was away from where it could be seen by the public, and the fact that most of the residents of the area affected are still not able to return home.

The sad thing is that this is one of this weekend's smaller fires. Similar fires occurred in Cartagena (Murcia), near the La Manga Gold Complex, which is reported to have destroyed 40 Hectares of land - but with no evacuations or damage to property - and at nearby Calasparra. A further, even more serious fire has been burning now for three days near Avila in Northern Spain and has destroyed up to 500 hectares of land.

With much of Spain still being on orange alert for such fires, and rain not being forecast for some months now, many are worried that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Earlier reports can be read by clicking Here.

Photographs courtesy of Adrian Harvey Photography

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