Wednesday, December 6

Outrage at the lack of means to stop the fire in the Sierra de la Culebra: “Politicians only come to emptied Spain to take a photo”

At noon, the town of Mahíde begins to recover its normality while the fire in the Sierra de la Culebra in the province of Zamora, which has already destroyed 20,000 hectares, is still active. The neighbors have been returning to this town in the Aliste region in the morning after being evicted at dawn from Thursday to Friday at 4 in the morning. The Civil Guard interrupted sleep in a town surrounded by smoke from the fire and the risk of the arrival of uncontrolled flames. Almost two days later the neighbors have been able to return, still afraid of what they experienced. In total, the residents of 18 localities have been displaced from their homes and half a dozen were already able to return this Saturday when the fronts moved to other areas.

Remains from the fire can be seen in the streets of Mahíde, small burned fragments of part of the pine trees and ashes, with the consequent risk of creating new sources, which also led to the eviction of the town: “It has been an experience like those that we see on television and we did not imagine living it”, explains one of the neighbors who has already returned, who also denounces the “bad information and organization” in the management of the fire. “Nobody knows Zamora and Ready less”, they lament to criticize the means against the fire, which they consider insufficient. “Zamora is the least important of all the provinces of Castilla y León”.

The official cause of the fire is lightning from dry storms that occurred last Wednesday. The heat wave and exceptionally strong winds caused the rest, together with a situation of lack of means of extinction of the Government of Castilla y León that has already generated a wave of criticism. This Saturday the wind is somewhat lighter, but the changes in its trajectory cause new fronts, activating some and turning off others in a matter of hours. The residents of Mahíde recall that from the Aliste area towards the Sierra de la Culebra there are two typical winds, the so-called ‘Castilian’ wind that blows in the morning and the so-called ‘Portuguese’ wind in the afternoon. Its variability has played against the efforts of the operatives.

This Saturday at 8 in the morning the eviction took place in Otero de Bodas, giving its neighbors two hours to collect the basics and make their way to Camarzana or Benavente. Tino, a neighbor who came to Camarzana along with his wife and his 90-year-old mother-in-law, confessed to being a little afraid for his home: “We are in the Sierra de la Culebra, do you know what there is about forests and undergrowth?” . “The emptied Spain is a shame, politicians only come to take a picture to look good, that’s what interests them, especially in Castilla y León,” he says, outraged by the situation caused by the very serious fire in Zamora.

The Sierra de la Culebra, one of the most important environmental sites in the province of Zamora, is known for being one of the homes of the Iberian wolf, which has become an important tourist resource in recent years despite the controversy over its hunting. According to the official estimates of the Junta de Castilla y León, there are already almost 20,000 hectares devastated, which is equivalent to a third of its surface. This mountain range also joins the counties of Sanabria, Carballeda, Aliste and Tábara with Portugal.

In Camarzana de Tera, more than 80 people spent the night in a warehouse set up to welcome the residents of the 14 towns affected by the evictions. In total, the evictions have affected 1,700 neighbors, including residents of a center for the elderly in Ferreras de Abajo who have been transferred to the Residencia Los Valles de Benavente. Neighbors who have not been able to count on the help of relatives or close friends have been given accommodation in Camarzana, Benavente and Alcañices.

Cecilia and Julián recount from their wait in Camarzana, converted into a temporary home, that in all their years living in Villardeciervos they had never seen a similar fire, which even affected a house in the town adjoining the urban area. They fear a traumatic return, “They already tell us to prepare for the return”, they explain after speaking with the psychosocial teams displaced to the places of reception for the neighbors. In this town they had to make a firewall around it to avoid greater evils. In Cabañas de Aliste, the fire reached almost the center of the town, burning parts of agricultural buildings that were miraculously saved thanks to the efforts of neighbors and brigade members.

While some neighbors return to their homes, others, such as those from Olleros de Tera, Calzadilla de Tera and Pumarejo de Tera, have had to leave their homes this Saturday afternoon due to the advance of the flames and smoke. The uncontrolled fire even endangers the circulation between Zamora and Ourense of the AVE, in addition to already affecting conventional routes this Friday. The end of the heat wave scheduled for this Sunday is the point at which neighbors and firefighting personnel place their hopes to be able to put an end to this nightmare. At the moment the heat and the wind on Saturday, although milder than the previous days, have not accompanied to control the fire and the sky remains gray in the northwest of Zamora.