The extreme heat, with values above 40 degrees this Saturday and several continued without appreciable drops in temperature at night, have caused a succession of fires that give continuity to those registered so far this week in places like Leyre. As has been known this Saturday afternoon, at least there are outbreaks in Obanos, Legarda, Muruzabal, Puente La Reina, Belascoáin, Zabalza, Ubani, Arguedas, Sendaviva Park, Ciriza, Tafalla, Erro, San Martín de Unx, the Bardenas area and in the Sierra de Alaiz, north of Unzué. Smoke and a reddish sky have been made visible from the center of the capital, Pamplona. In the evening, another fire was reported in Arroniz and damage to the towns of Valtierra, Echarri and Vidaurreta. The information is very changeable and remains updated on the 112 Navarra Twitter account.
Lightning caused the fire in the Sierra de Leyre, in Navarra, where three forest fires are still active
The vice president of the Government of Navarra, the socialist Javier Remírez, made an emergency appearance at 8:00 p.m. and was clear: “The situation is critical.” He has made a “call for calm and citizen responsibility” and has asked that they “remain in their homes without going out into the street” unless the residents of the areas close to the outbreaks countermand. “Do not go out to see the fire”, implored the Director General of the Interior, Amparo López Antelo, who explained that “the entire middle zone, from east to west” has been affected, in addition to the south, with Sendaviva as the epicenter . The senior government officials, meeting at the crisis table, have also warned: “We are going to have some hours that are frankly very, very difficult.”
The Government of Navarra offers updated information on the evolution of the events through Twitter accounts such as that of 112, that of the Regional Police or that of the Environmental Guard. Already this morning it had been warned that the situation was “extreme risk throughout the foral community” and the population had been summoned to avoid “any activity that could cause fires.” Formally, level 2 of the emergency plan has been activated, which implies that all regional resources are mobilized, that air resources have been requested from the State and that the collaboration of the Military Emergency Unit, known for its acronym UME, which at 8:00 p.m. was “on the way”. Remírez, yes, has explained that not only Navarra has problems in Spain and that the resources of the central government are experiencing a situation of “stress”. Two emergency technicians involved in the device have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
During the afternoon, in the middle zone, the A-12, known as the Camino de Santiago Highway and linking Pamplona with Logroño, was cut in both directions at 7:00 p.m. The condition is between kilometer points 9 and 24, in the vicinity of Puente La Reina. Later, with the declaration of the fire in Arroniz, the kilometric point of the same road was also cut. Likewise, the firefighters have requested the eviction of the people who were in the Alloz reservoir in order to facilitate the collection of water by aerial means.
According to reports, in the case of Sendaviva – a nature park in the south of Navarra – some 2,500 people have had to be evicted, hundreds of them from an excursion by the Hirukide association of large Basque families. Staff have also been asked to leave their posts. The animals of the enclosure, according to the first information, are not in danger, although there are videos of zebras fleeing from the column of smoke. Park sources explain: “The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. and was evacuated fairly quickly and without incident. As far as we know at this time, the animals are safe. Some have been moved to protected areas. Water circuits have also been opened. The park will close this Sunday.
According to Europa Press reports, there have also been evicted homes in other areas, such as Muruzabal or Obanos, who have not been able to return to their homes until approximately 10:00 p.m. The Foral Police has illustrated the situation with a video. The Puente la Reina pediment had been set up to house the evicted people, but the proximity of the fire has also forced a change of plans. In that area, areas of Belascoáin, Zabalza and Ubani have also been evicted, but also Ciriza and other municipalities. Foral Police and Civil Guard organize evictions with the assistance of the Red Cross and have organized supplies. López Antelo has explained that the mayors have been asked for collaboration so that, with tractors, they make “firebreaks” and has indicated that it is being an effective measure, although he has warned that the wind is going to “roll” at night, which which can amplify the points of risk.
“The situation is critical”
“The priority is clear, saving people and population centers,” emphasized Remírez and López Antelo. Asked about the possible causes of the fire -during the week lightning caused the burning of the surroundings of Leyre-, they have opted for caution. “We are going to be cautious in determining the cause. We have already launched a recommendation to avoid agricultural work. You know that a new regulation is being prepared to be more restrictive in this area”, Remírez responded to journalists. Given the “critical” situation, Navarra is receiving reinforcements from the Álava and La Rioja Fire Brigades. The former support in the area of Los Arcos and the latter have moved to Arguedas.