Wednesday, August 17

The towns against the fire in Zamora: “It’s hell, but you could see it coming”

The flames lit up Monday night in the Zamorano countryside near Tábara, in the foothills of the Sierra de la Culebra. The same mountains that burned a month ago, about 40 kilometers from Zamora.

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Three men, who have been working for hours to open firebreaks, to irrigate the rye and alfalfa fields so that the fire does not start, agree around one in the morning that enough is enough, that they have done what they could and now only Cross your fingers and watch the show. At a hundred meters, a bulldozer it advances slowly, dragging earth over a tongue of fire to extinguish it. Ceferino Legido, 40, arms crossed, replies: “I had never seen anything like this in my life. This is hell, but you could see it coming.”

Legido is with Juan José Gasol, 51, who was in Alicante visiting a son and came in a hurry in the morning to do whatever it took to fight the flames. Both are from Pozuelo, one of the 32 towns evicted by the fire, which originated in Losacio, where in just over a day, due to the heat, the wind, the lack of care for the mountains, the lack of means of prevention, due to the lack of urgency in the extinction, nearly 20,000 hectares burned and two people died, a brigade member and a rancher.

The trio that watches the fire is completed by Santiago Riego, 26, who lives in Santa Eulalia, very close as well. None of the three should be here, because the road is closed. “Who leaves his whole life in the town like this for no reason?”, Santiago opposes. “There is nothing careful. He doesn’t even clear the brush, ”says Gasol.

Many residents of the region feel the same. In the town of Tábara, only the efforts of the locals managed to prevent the gas station from burning. In another place a ship with pigs was saved. “The oak grove has been spared,” celebrates Gasol. All with their own means, the three insist. At this point, until 11:00 p.m. the brigades had not appeared, they say. After a while, a Civil Guard car appears. The agent who is not behind the wheel seems very upset. “This fucking air could stop already! It’s just that it doesn’t make sense! ”, He vents to the countrymen, who look at him and nod.

Perilla de Castro should also be evicted, about five kilometers away, and yet, at the entrance to the town, sitting on a bench in front of her parents’ house, there is a woman looking straight ahead, in silence. Her name is Maru, from María, she does not say her age or her last name, she has a son emigrating to the US, she thinks: “No one cares about us here”, she censures.

Maru continues: “When I grew up, there were four schools, now we don’t even have a baker,” she laments. In Perilla there are 160 people registered. The thirty affected towns add up to some 5,000 inhabitants. Maru’s family was always dedicated to sheep farming. He remembers that before, when there were fires, the neighbors organized themselves, went to the sources, the community pushed back the fire. “The bell rang and we all went,” he says. Now it is no longer the case. There is an apathy, a sense of inevitability. Maru does not think it is very good that the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, passed through the area to “take a picture”, but her visit does not excite her either. “Before you used to get mad; now they are not even paid attention to, each one to his own film”. Another neighbor appears, Begoña, who takes Maru. The flames move away from Perilla, the town is safe.

caution at dawn

The next day, with great precautions, because the wind is capricious and continues fast, although the maximum temperatures have dropped, the brigades of the Junta de Castilla y León, the Military Emergency Unit, helicopters and seaplanes intervene in the mountain where they rise the propellers of the Valmediano wind farm, in Faramontanos.

Three brigade members, one of them well into his fifties, a forest pawn since the 1980s, confirm how unusually virulent the fire is. He shows up in a van Victoriano Blanco, former councilman. “Here there is a lot of passivity, around here we call it scaffolding“, the Mint. He came yesterday to lend a hand with the tractor and wanted to check that he had saved an apiary, a small victory to cling to. “With that I already had a satisfaction”, he notes.

Victoriano does not trust that the fire will be extinguished this Tuesday. He says he has arranged for four farmers with tractors to start plowing firebreaks at the first sign. A smoke in the area of ​​El Vallón worries him, he gets in the truck and goes to take a look. Meanwhile, the firefighting helicopters come, unload and leave, to return after a while. The danger continues and much work remains.