Firefighters stabilise Peramola fire while Artesa fire remains out of control
Government considering restrictions in some areas for Sant Joan after having had to deal with 229 fires in five days
BarcelonaAfter intense work last night, the Fire Service has been able to consider the fire which started yesterday between Peramola and Oliana, in the Alt Urgell to be stable by 7.35 am. There was concern as it was advancing in a mountainous area, and it has affected 123 hectares, according to the latest count by Forest Rangers. This means some units have been freed up and redeployed to other areas: since Wednesday there have been 229 wildfires in Catalonia, including the one that continues to cause the most concern: Baldomar, in Artesa de Segre, which has already burnt 2,419.47 hectares. Catalan Home Affairs minister Joan Ignasi Elena has told RAC1 that the Fire Service "is working very hard" and that it hoped to be able to stabilise the fire during the day. The efforts are now focused on a "small" section at the head of the fire, on the west flank.
After six difficult days for the Fire Service, yesterday offered some respite. Whilst between Wednesday and Sunday there was an average 46 fires per day, yesterday it dropped to 30. Nevertheless, the authorities are on alert and the Catalan government is already considering restrictions for Sant Joan festival, which always causes concern due to traditional bonfires and fireworks. Elena pointed out that a decision will be made public by Wednesday morning and that it will be very conditioned by the weather forecast.
Elena recalled that every year there are restrictions for Sant Joan, such as the ban on launching fireworks within 500 meters of any area with vegetation, and has advanced that new measures would not be applicable throughout the country: "You cannot prepare general measures because the reality [of the different areas] is very different".
So far, the main changes for the situation on Monday is the stabilisation of the fire in Peramola and bringing the fire that has been burning since Saturday in Olivella, in the Garraf, under control. This fire affects an area 164 hectares and has 23 units working to put it out. The firefighters focused, from the outset, on attacking the fire from the top of a cliff to prevent the flanks from expanding, especially the right flank, which overlooks the valley of the Segre. Now 55 ground crews are working on the fire and, according to provisional data from the Forest Rangers, it affects an area of approximately 60 hectares. Most of the affected area is within the Natural Interest Area of the Serra d'Aubenç i Roc de Gogul. The flames in Peramola had a potential to burn 1,400 hectares, but the firefighters were able to stop the right flank.
As for the fire of Artesa de Segre, in the Noguera, on Sunday it had again restarted after a very tough Saturday. Alòs de Balaguer residents are now allowed to leave their homes again, while Clua residents have been told they may return home, but cannot stay outside. The fire has already burnt 2,419 hectares, according to the last count by Forest Rangers. This morning 73 ground crews and a helicopter were working to extinguish the fire. The Catalan Government's Lleida delegate, Bernat Solé, speaks of "moderate tranquility" and highlights the "essential" task of farmers who have contributed to slow the fire's advance by ploughing strips in the fields.
Director general of Prevention, Fire Fighting and Rescue Joan Delort admitted to Catalunya Ràdio that the Fire Service was "very tense" these days and that they had been concerned. Delort also defended that if restrictions were agreed for Sant Joan they would be "specific to the areas with the highest risk of fire, in very specific places". He added that the forecasts indicate rain for the next few days and hoped this will help to reduce the risk.
Firefighters plan to review the areas where in recent days lightning has fallen and are counting on the forecast of rain, especially from tomorrow, to finish extinguishing all the fires.