The danger of fires triggered throughout Spain by the heat wave is already having its consequences in Catalonia. Two fires have burned uncontrollably since noon this Wednesday without control in Artesa de Segre (Lleida) and Corbera d’Ebre (Tarragona). Firefighters are working to stop the flames that have already affected more than 500 and 300 hectares, respectively, of forest and crop areas. The initial causes of the fires, which have been aggravated by dry storms in the area, are unknown.
In Artesa de Segre, 60 Fire Brigade crews, 4 of them aerial, act against the fire. The main concern of the body is focused on the left flank of the Baldomar fire, which gives way to the 20,000 hectares of the Montsec massif, and whose extinction has been complicated by weather conditions. Wind and low humidity make it difficult to extinguish the flames.
The firefighters support chief, Miki López, explained that some dry storms have left a simultaneity of fires caused by lightning and free propagation. “The front passage has left lightning, but not water”, he has indicated, which has caused the left flank to worsen and the first burning potential that the firefighters had set has been extended to 20,000 hectares.
The Government delegate in Lleida, Bernat Solé, has confirmed that there are no personal injuries, that the municipality of Alòs de Balaguer is confined and that several evacuations have taken place: 20 people from the municipality of Clua, 54 more people from the house of colonies Cal Petit de Argentera and the Os de Balaguer campsite, where only the owners were.
The councilor of the municipality, Cristina Dil, explained to the Agència Catalana de Notícies (ACN) that the wind immediately directed the fire towards the mountain and towards the Ariet valley. Dil has indicated that when the fire started the temperature was close to 40 degrees, which together with the drought and the wind fanned the flames.
In addition, since a quarter past five in the afternoon of this Wednesday, five Fire Department crews have been working on a fire close to it, located in Foradada, whose origin is unknown at the moment, although it seems that it would not be a secondary focus of the first, but rather a independent fire.
On the other hand, the fire that affects the municipality of Corbera d’Ebre already affects some 300 hectares, with a potential of 8,000, as explained by the Fire Department. The notice was received at 2:53 p.m., and 40 ground crews and six aerial crews (two command helicopters, two firefighters and two surveillance and attack planes) work in the extinction tasks.
As detailed by the Fire Department, the fire has made secondary sources and some have been located 50 meters from the main one. It has been necessary to cut the TV-7333 road, between Fatarella and Vilalba dels Arcs, in both directions. The Firefighters have highlighted that the storms coming from Aragón are moving towards the area of the fire and making extinction difficult.
Despite the weather conditions, with wind and high temperatures, the Firefighters have managed to drive the fire towards an area of fields, next to the road. The Rural Agents are surrounding the affected area and the Firefighters are distributed in an area of 200 hectares to deal with the fire. The flames have affected a wind farm and the area of Les Camposines.
The mayor of Corbera d’Ebre, Antoni Álvarez, explained that the crop fields in a ravine are helping to prevent the flames from spreading more quickly. He has also added that there has been some explosion of bombs from the Civil War that are scattered around the municipality.
The first fires arrive on the day in which the Government has presented the Firefighters’ summer campaign. Some forty aerial means, more than 5,000 firefighters, rural and forest agents and 500 temporary reinforcement contracts will face the forest fire campaign this summer in Catalonia, which the Ministry of the Interior foresees as one of the worst, complicated and long in recent years.