Society 25/07/2021

Great concern over the instability of the Conca de Barberà and Anoia fires

The fire has already burned 1,200 hectares but has the potential to burn up to 5,000 hectares

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

BarcelonaGreat concern about the fire in the Conca de Barberà and Anoia, which has already burned about 1,200 hectares and is still active. The tasks of extinction of the firefighters are focused on stabilising a very long and unstable flank of about 10 kilometers, which worries the firefighters. The fire now faces a "critical hours" and firefighters are focused on preventing it from reaching Sant Martí de Tous.

That is why the Generalitat has asked the State to help the Catalan emergency services to fight the fire. The minister of Home Affairs, Joan Ignasi Elena, has explained to Catalunya Ràdio that 50 troops of the Military Unit of Emergencies (UME) have arrived, although already more troops are being sent and the number could rise to 200, according to sources of the Spanish government. Elena has also asked for "great prudence" to the population so that they do not commit risky behavior in nature and firefighters can concentrate on extinguishing the fire. "We can not afford another fire", he warned.

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

A group of ADF work on the ground in Sant Martí de Tous

The chief inspector of body, David Borrell, explained that the change from a west wind to a sea breeze this Sunday morning has led him to fear that this flank could become the head of the fire and turn northwards, in the direction of Sant Martí de Tous. There the neighbours are watching, helplessly, as the flames are getting closer and closer and have reached the top of the Agulla Grossa hull, just outside the village.

Borrell pointed out that the perimeter "is very unstable and only 80% of the work has been done". He also remarked that the mosaic of cereal crops and forest in the area "makes it especially complicated because it requires different techniques. ADF and UME personnel are working on it, supporting the fire brigade. Fourteen aerial resources have also been working since dawn.

For the time being, lockdown or eviction of population centres is ruled out

Large-scale lockdowns or evictions are ruled out for the time being. For now, 80 people have had to be evacuated from the affected area as a precaution. Specifically, 50 residents of farmhouses in Santa Maria de Miralles, around twenty people from Bellprat and 12 young people who were camping in a regulated area of Sant Martí de Tous, as well as other residents who lived in farmhouses. The evacuees have been accommodated in Santa Coloma de Queralt, in the Ateneu building in Sant Martí de Tous and the social centre in Santa Maria de Miralles. There has been no significant damage or material damage during the night. The fire burnt down a livestock farm and a farmhouse on Saturday.

As for the origin of the fire, the Rural Agents are investigating the possible causes. At the moment, they have only located the point where it originated. "During the day tomorrow we will make a very detailed inspection in the starting area to see if we find any evidence", said the head of the Rural Agents, Toni Mur.

Simultaneity of fires

The fact that the fire is still uncontrolled and has coincided with another fire in the Empordà, which has now been stabilised, has led Civil Protection to activate the special emergency plan for forest fires in Catalonia (Infocat). "Today's situation is not normal, we have had to activate the Infocat plan in the emergency phase, which had not been done for years due to the simultaneity of the fires, two major fires in the active phase and with potential, has made us double our efforts and resources", explained the head of the Fire Department of the Generalitat, David Borrell. Firefighters are also working to extinguish the fires affecting the Montgrí massif in Baix Empordà and Ventalló in Alt Empordà.

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