Society 26/07/2021

Firefighters hope to stabilise fire in Conca de Barberà and Anoia today

Rain creates optimism: over 90% of the fire's perimeter stable and confinement of nearby populations lifted

ARA
3 min
A field and a small farmhouse ravaged by fire in Santa Coloma de Queralt, in the Conca de Barberà.

BarcelonaFirefighters have made progress on the fire active since Saturday in Conca de Barberà and Anoia, which has already laid waste to 1657 hectares. The rain is assisting the firefighters, which have been able to stabilise 90% of the fire's perimeter. They expect the fire will be completely stabilised before the end of Monday, as explained by inspector-in-chief David Borrell. Right now, residents in Sant Martí de Tous, Santa Maria de Miralles, Bellprat and Sant Gallard have been allowed to leave their homes. where they had been asked to remain since last night, and all roads have been reopened. Residents are nevertheless asked to avoid approaching the area of the fire. The 168 evacuees have not yet been able to return to their homes, although officials hope they will be able to do so throughout the day.

The Catalan Minister of Home Affairs, Joan Ignasi Elena, has highlighted this morning "the extraordinary work", using hand tools and backfires, but noted that the fight "is not over" and that the fire could still spread. The best news is the rain already falling in the affected area, which has made firefighters optimistic: "The weather is on our side," Elena celebrated.

Firefighters are now focusing efforts on the 10% of the perimeter which is still unstable, especially in two areas at the front, one on the right flank and the other on the left, which are the most concerning, as well as in some spot fires. These appeared yesterday evening after a large smoke cloud over the fire forced firefighters to withdraw temporarily. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

According to provisional data, the fire has affected a total area of 1,657 hectares: 1,069.5 hectares in Bellprat, 234 in Sant Martí de Tous, 233 in Santa Maria de Miralles, 70 in Les Piles, 48.5 in Santa Coloma de Queralt and 2 in Pontils. This land was mostly forest (1,272 hectares), with some farming land (380 hectares) and a small amount of urban land (5 hectares). Three quarters of the land (1,218) hectares were part of the Area of Natural Interest of the Central Prelitoral System.

The main goal last night was to prevent the fire from reaching Sant Martí de Tous (Anoia). The flames are about 2.5 kilometers from the village, according to mayor David Alquézar. Firefighters asked neighbours in Tous and Santa Maria de Miralles not to leave their homes, and for people to stay away from the fire. Can Aubareda was evacuated. Alquézar trusted this morning, in declarations to Catalunya Ràdio, that the meteorological conditions would assist the fire brigade.

The authorities believe the fire was caused by human activity, although it remains to be seen whether it was deliberate. The area where the fire started, next to road C-241, is very deteriorated and no conclusive evidence has been found. "We have not found any cigarette butts, the dogs have not found any remains of combustion accelerator, and there is no evidence related to the machinery; all hypotheses are open", an official explained.

The fire originated on Saturday in Santa Coloma de Queralt and spread quickly in the afternoon between crops, mainly cereals, and then took on a "very virulent component" when it began to burn too much forest, and spread through several municipalities in Conca de Barberà and Anoia. Half of the burned hectares are part of the Protected Natural Area of the Central Prelitoral System.

Two fires in l'Empordà

The emergency services have had a particularly complicated weekend, because the biggest fire of the summer, in Santa Coloma de Queralt, coincided with two more fires, both in l'Empordà. One occurred in Ventalló, where the Fire Service brought under control this Monday after it burnt 34 hectares of forest. The other was in the Montgrí Massif, which was finally declared under control on Sunday after burning 91 hectares of forest.

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