Firefighters concentrate on the fires of Lladurs and Artesa de Segre
Teams have managed to control the fire in Corbera d'Ebre
BarcelonaAfter two days fighting simultaneous fires caused by high temperatures and electric storms, the situation in Catalonia has improved significantly this Friday. Although most of the fires which were active on Thursday have already been brought under control, the Fire Service remains alert because today is the hottest day of the week and, therefore, the one that carries the greatest risk of new outbreaks, such as the ones seen between the towns of Riba and Farena, in Alt Camp, on which 5 aerial units and 14 ground crews are working. Right now, after fighting these fires for two days of non-stop, firefighters are reallocating more units to Lladurs (Solsonès) and Artesa de Segre (Noguera). Both are still burning out of control, but firefighters have more units, since they have managed to stabilise most of the other fires.
The Lladurs fire has burnt only about fifty hectares and, moreover, this noon firefighters have reported that they had it circled, However, the firefighting teams continue to treat it with great respect because it is burning in an area of difficult access and, if it gets out of control, it could burn an area of 50,000 hectares. The head of Fire Service team in the fires of Solsonès, Santi Lleonart, explained that they are currently securing the perimeter of the Lladurs fire, but it is "far" from being stable. He acknowledged that it is a "very complicated" fire and that everything points to the fact that it was caused by lightning. Of particular concern is the right flank, which is very unstable and is in a wooded area. Fortunately, the other fire burning in the same area, Castellar de la Ribera, has been stabilised after having burnt about 350 hectares, so that some units have been moved to Lladurs.
The other worrying fire is in Artesa de Segre (Noguera), which has already burnt 1,500 hectares. The flames are advancing very slowly and the main goal of the extinguishing teams was to finish containing the right flank, which in principle has been achieved, since it is considered controlled. When it is considered that the right flank is no longer dangerous, they will concentrate all their strength on the left flank, which threatens the mountain of Sant Mamet, as Catalan government delegate Bernat Solé explained this morning. Two helicopters and a surveillance plane have joined efforts to extinguish the blaze. In addition, according to Solé, two more helicopters from the Military Emergencies Unit may join.
During this morning, firefighters have already given controlled the forest fire of Corbera d'Ebre and have reduced the number of units by 50%. At night it is expected that only 25% of the total number of units will remain.
A new fire, already stabilised
After a morning of good news, alarms bells rang at noon when a column of smoke was spotted in Peramola, in Alt Urgell. Firefighters confirmed that lightning had caused a fire in the area and different units were on their way to extinguish it. At two o'clock in the afternoon, firefighters announced that it had been stabilised. Without respite, however, a few minutes later the La Riba and Farena fire broke out.
Catalan Home Affairs minister Joan Ignasi Elena has moved to the Fire Command Center (CCB) provisionally set up in Castellar de la Ribera (Solsonès). Hours earlier, the minister had already predicted that it would be a difficult day: "Yesterday was a very, very tough day. Very tough. And so will today". Elena celebrated the stabilisation of fires in Corbera d'Ebre and Sallent, and also in Castellar de la Ribera. "That is very good because it allows us to free resources for other fires that now concern us," he said.
Elena explained that the most complicated moment was yesterday afternoon, when the fire broke out in Sallent (Bages), which, had it not been stabilised quickly, would have been "a tragedy". That is why the minister wanted to congratulate the entire corps, but especially the planning teams. "Planning and prioritising is basic and that is what I want to highlight, the intelligence of knowing at what specific time you have to allocate more resources to one place or another, and not just the skill and courage to go and put out the fire," Elena said, who also thanked the efforts of Forest Rangers, Civil Protection and volunteer firefighters, as well as farmers who "are ploughing and helping following the Fire Department's instructions".
Responding to some criticism from mayors and neighbours, Elena denied that any fire was neglected, but acknowledged that in the current situation there is a need to "prioritise" fires which pose a greater risk. In statements to Catalunya Ràdio, he said he understands the complaints from some municipalities, such as Castellar de la Ribera or Alòs de Balaguer. Elena went to the Solsonès to talk to the mayors and "review the situation".
High risk of fire in most of Catalonia
Practically all the counties of Catalonia are at level 2 (high risk of fire), according to Forest Rangers' Plan Alfa map. Only Vall d'Aran, Cerdanya, Ripollès and Pla d'Urgell are at level 0. On the other hand, part of the counties in Pallars Jussà, Alt Urgell, Noguera, Solsonès, Urgell and Segarra have reached level 3. Levels 2 and 3 imply restrictions on activities involving fire, such as certain agricultural tasks or barbecues. In view of this situation, the Generalitat has closed access to natural spaces Baronia de Rialb, in the region of La Noguera, Montsec de Ares, between La Noguera and Pallars Jussà, and Montsec de Rúbies, also between La Noguera and Pallars Jussà, due to the risk of fire.