Rain contributes to firefighting efforts in Valencia, which have already devastated 20,000 hectares
The 1,500 evacuees from Marina Alta fire can now return home
ValenciaOver 20,000 hectares burnt and 3,000 evacuees: this is the provisional balance of the two major fires that remain active in the Valencian Country, which is still immersed in one of its worst environmental crises in recent years after suffering the two largest fires in the last decade. The good news this Wednesday was the rain across the regions of the Marina Alta and Comtat, which assisted firefighters' efforts to put out the flames in Vall d'Ebo. The Fire Service hopes it will be stabilised by the end of today. In fact, the Generalitat has already authorised 1,500 evacuated residents to return to their homes.
On the other hand, the rain which fell early this morning in the area devastated by the forest fire in Bejís (Alto Palancia),which was the most concerning yesterday afternoon, has almost completely put out the flames around the perimeter, although some hot spots remain. "It is raining in Bejís. We cannot claim total victory, but this assistance will be very important. Our work continues," the Provincial Consortium of Firefighters of Castellón tweeted this morning.
According to the latest update by the Valencian government's emergency services, the rainfall on the scorched terrain is "very positive" and during the night the low intensity wind allowed efforts to put out the flames by adjusting the perimeter of the fire.
The virulence of the Bejís fire, probably caused by lightning from a dry storm, has forced the evacuation of 1,500 people – the residents of Bejís, Torás, Teresa and Sacanyet – as well as the confinement of Viver residents. In addition, over 10,000 hectares burnt at terrifying speed. So much so that the Minister of Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, admitted that the intensity of the flames forced firefighters and the 25 aerial units to limit themselves "to protect" urban areas and to postpone the fight against the fire until the conditions improved. This voracity has been caused by a changing wind that has blown erratically and has made it difficult to extinguish a fire which Valencian president Ximo Puig has described as "very difficult". The high temperatures and low humidity recorded in the area did not help either.
The victims of this ferocity have been three firefighters who were slightly injured. There were also ten injured this Tuesday when they abandoned a train that was trapped by the flames. The passengers supposedly got off the carriages when the driver stopped the train and was heading to the rear engine. Three passengers have severe burns and the condition of one 58-year-old woman is of particular concern.
The fire in Vall d'Ebo is evolving more favourably, after having burned 11,730 hectares. Tonight around thirty firefighter units worked to put out the fire, and this morning air units will join them. Rainfall has contributed to the efforts and, according to the latest update from the emergency services, there are no longer any flames.
However, last night's storms also had negative consequences: lightning strikes are considered the likely cause of new fires. In Petrer (Vinalopó Medio) –already under control–, Albaida (Valle de Albaida) –which is still active after a night's work by four units of forest firefighters and four fire engines– and in Benaguasil (Campo de Turia). The latter affects the area of Traveses, in a mountain area. The proximity of houses has led to stark measures from the authorities.