Fire on Cap de Creus stable after two-day struggle against the flames

Fire between Llançà and Port de la Selva burnt 416 hectares

3 min
A seaplane soaks the area burned by fire

BarcelonaThe Firefighters of the Generalitat have stabilised the fire between Llançà and Port de la Selva by nine o'clock this Sunday morning, after two days fighting the flames on Cap de Creus. The fire has burnt a perimeter of 416 hectares, mostly within the Natural Park of Cap de Creus. The 55 firefighter land units, along with support from planes and helicopters, will aim to keep the perimeter cool during the day so the embers cannot restart the fire. If this is achieved, the fire could be considered to be under control in the next few hours.

This afternoon, firefighters's efforts are centred around two areas where there is a risk that the flames might rekindle if the wind blows: one at the fire front, towards Vall de Santa Creu, and another in a secondary front that could move towards Selva de Mar. According to the operational head of the firefighters in the area, Ferran Garcia, the two areas have been "burned badly" and could be set alight again if the wind continues to blow. Despite considering the fire stable by early morning, during the night from Saturday to Sunday Firefighters have had "two scares" due to stronger wind that have set some hot spots alight, as explained by another of the commanders of the Fire Department, Santi Lleonart. Even so, the 155 firefighters on the ground have managed to stop the fire from growing and stabilise it in these 416 hectares. They have been able to surround the fire with water lines and reach points which had been inaccessible during the day. The drop in heat and increase in humidity have helped.

One of the places where the fire was still smouldering on Sunday.

Lleonart explained that one of the difficulties in extinguishing the fire was that the fire advanced in a "very disjointed and discontinuous" way, affecting a very large area of forest, and this has required greater efforts. Just to give an example, firefighters have had to use 12 km of hoses. Even so, the emergency services are "optimistic" the perimeter of the fire will stay "cool" during the day.

The area affected by the fire at Cap de Creus.

At this point, there is still no access to Sant Pere de Rodes and the residents of Vall de Santa Creu have not returned to their homes. The virulence of the flames near inhabited areas forced the evacuation of up to 350 people between Friday and Saturday, most of whom have already been able to go home tonight. The others - except residents of Vall de Santa Creu - have been returning during this Sunday morning. Five people - four firefighters and a volunteer- were slightly injured by heat stroke during the most critical hours of the fire.

Now the firefighters' goal is to continue to keep the fire at bay and bring it under control, provided that the weather conditions are adequate. The wind continued in Alt Empordà throughout this Sunday, with gusts of up to 40 to 50 km/h. Even so, it is expected to disappear by tomorrow noon. However, in the area of the forest fire in Llançà, the temperature might rise up to 30ºC and the relative humidity will fall below 40% around midday. It is for this reason, as well as the drought affecting the area, that the danger of forest fires remains very high on Cap de Creus and the rest of the north of Alt Empordà, reports Oriol Rodriguez.

Firefighters soaking one of the points affected by the fire at Cap de Creus on Sunday.

The Government has made a new appeal to responsibility and has insisted that the scientific police of the Mossos d'Esquadra continues analyzing the cigarette butt that could have caused the fire to identify the author of the fire and bring him to justice.

No help from French firefighters

The Generalitat had asked the Spanish government to ask the French government for the support of large-capacity seaplanes. In an interview on Catalunya Ràdio, the general director of Prevention, Extinction of Fires and Sea Rescue, Joan Delort, has explained that Spanish executive offered the possibility of sending firefighters from Aragon, which would have arrived much later than the French. Delort was "angry" because French aid was not requested, although it would have arrived "in quarter of an hour", but has admitted that the fact of mobilising emergency services of a neighbouring country before one's own is an "old debate" that he thinks should be discussed.

On Saturday, the Spanish government elegate in Girona, Albert Bramon, explained that it was considered appropriate to exhaust all "resources still available" first. "If the fire had advanced, another consideration could have been made," said Bramon, who explained that in case of a "crisis situation", they would have requested French support.

This Sunday the firefighters have also had to work on another small fire next to Camarasa, which burnt undergrowth scrub. Nine ground crews and a helicopter were deployed.