Campsites and routes banned in the middle of Catalonia due to fire risk

The measures will apply for five days during which no agricultural activities may be carried out during the day, except for fruit picking

3 min
Incendi Collserola, rural agents

BarcelonaThe Diari Oficial de la Generalitat (DOGC) will publish in the next few hours several restrictions that will come into force this afternoon due to the risk of fires caused by the heat wave arriving in Catalonia. It is predicted to be the worst week in terms of fire danger in the country in the last 18 years. The measures will be applied in half of the country, in the 24 regions where the danger is higher: Bages, Anoia, Baix Llobregat, Vallès Oriental, Alt Penedès, Vallès Occidental, Noguera, Tarragonès, Osona, Baix Penedès, Priorat, Moianès, Maresme, Segrià, Solsonès, Pallars Jussà, Alt Urgell, Garraf, Alt Camp, Terra Alta, Barcelonès, Berguedà, Segarra and Ribera d'Ebre. There are 279 municipalities where camping, hiking and sporting activities will be banned for five days, as long as the heat wave is expected to last.

In addition, between ten in the morning and eight in the evening all agricultural activities that involve the use of machinery, except the collection of fruit, will be banned. In the same time slot forestry work or work on power lines will not be able to be carried out, unless they can not be postponed, and the tasks of maintenance or road works will be forced to stop. If during the day it is necessary to plough fields or clear areas to prevent fires, the tasks will be carried out under the supervision of the Forest Defence Groups (ADF). Finally, motorised traffic will be prohibited in the natural environment of the affected municipalities, except for residents. The accesses to the natural parks of Montserrat, Serra de Montsant, Montmell-Marmellar, Serra de Montsec and Baronia de Rialb will also be closed.

"It is a good time for humans not to access the natural environment. We don't want fires and in case we have them we don't want simultaneity", the general secretary of Home Affairs, Oriol Amorós, has stated. The Firefighters of the Generalitat will be reinforced in the coming days to go from the 380 daily troops on duty they usually have to about 500. This will allow for more staff in the staff parks and the opening of all volunteer parks. The deputy director general of the Fire Department, Antonio Ramos, explained that the goal is "to act as quickly as possible" to avoid simultaneous fires.

Amorós has also appealed to the entire population of Catalonia, not just the 24 counties, to follow the measures so that firefighters can be in the parks "ready to act where necessary". "This is not the time to give them jobs that can be spared", said Amorós, such as rescues in the natural environment. The restrictions will be in force from the moment they are published in the DOGC - the Government has said that, at the latest, from Thursday morning - until the end of Monday. The camps will have more margin, until Friday at noon, to dismantle. The Mossos d'Esquadra and the Agents Rurals will control that the measures are respected and will sanction the noncompliances.

A "different" response from Turkey and Greece

Amorós has warned that the exceptionality of this heat wave is that in principle it will last five days, when normally they are used to two or three. He also warned that they want to avoid having three or four fires at the same time because "there is a lot of suffering" and "resources cannot be divided". The secretary general of Home Affairs has considered that if the fires that can be declared are similar to those of the last days in Turkey and Greece the "capacity" of response of Catalonia would be "different".

In spite of everything, Amorós admitted that there has not been a similar episode since 2003 and added that the wave will mean that there will be no respite at night to attack the fires, so that "the priority" is that there are no fires. Every morning the Agents Rurals will evaluate the situation to assess whether to extend the list of counties and municipalities in which restrictions will be applied.