The fire started on Saturday in a car has devastated some 20,000 hectares, a third of all the forest area burned this year
Exhausted, haggard and dehydrated, but at the bottom of the barrel. Hundreds of brigade members and forest agents, firefighters, military personnel, technicians, health workers, policemen and pilots and crew members of almost thirty airplanes and helicopters have spent four days, with their days and nights, fighting hand in hand against a gigantic and dangerous forest fire started in Navalacruz, a rural enclave just over 50 kilometers from the capital of Avila.
This superfire, which already covers a perimeter of 130 kilometers, is, in the absence of technicians confirming its official dimensions in a few days, the fourth largest and most devastating registered in Spain in the last half century, since the Government began to carry an accounting of the fires in 1968.
The Castilian-Leonese Executive does not provide data since it calculated 12,000 hectares on Monday, but the satellite network of the European Copernicus program has advanced that the scrub, pastures and forests burned by the flames are more like 20,000 hectares.
If they confirm the dimensions viewed from space, the environmental catastrophe that started in the center of Ávila would only be surpassed by the huge fire unleashed in June 2012 by the recklessness of two welders in the Valencian town of Cortes de Pallás, which devastated 30,000 hectares of twelve municipal terms; by the fire caused in which two motorists died in the Minas de Riotinto in Huelva in 2007, with 27,000 hectares consumed; and by the flames originating in Andilla that devoured the until then lush Valencian area of Los Serranos and reduced 22,000 hectares to pure soot.
The flames that jumped from the engine of a minivan on Saturday to the undergrowth of the ditch have become by far the most important incident of the year, a forest fire almost seven times greater than its precedent, the 3,000-hectare fire that occurred in May in the Tenerife municipality of Arico. The mechanical failure that occurred fifteen minutes before eleven o’clock in the morning at kilometer 38 of the N-502, Ávila-Córdoba, has ended up burning, spurred by a record heat wave and strong winds, approximately a third of the entire Spanish forest area devastated by fires (more than 2,000) recorded since last January 1.
On the way to containment
The slight drop in temperatures and the calm of the wind made those responsible for the emergency device think today that the fire could be contained in hours, as a step prior to being able to declare the controlled fire, not extinguished. However, a worrying tongue of fire persisted (it could only be attacked by air means) on the southern front and risk level 2 was maintained, which forced the eviction of up to eight towns on Sunday, whose thousand of residents and visitors could not return to their homes until today, when the end of the risk was decreed.
The Castilian-Leonese Executive is considering asking for the declaration of a catastrophic zone for the calcined territory and the farmers in the area will soon begin to receive shipments of forage to feed their donated animals from different parts of the country.
The Navalacruz is the fifteenth Spanish superfire of the year, the name of the uncontrolled fires that in a matter of hours devastate more than 500 hectares. WWF experts see a new “warning” of the threat posed by a type of accident “increasingly frequent, more serious and that defy all extinguishing devices.” They are, they warn, the consequence of climate change and the abandonment of the rural world and Spain, they say, is “one of the most vulnerable countries”, which can repeat any day the tragic summer of Greece and Turkey. This year there have been 60% more superfires in Spain than the average for the decade. They have no doubt that the trend, if not remedied, is to register fewer fires, but much more damaging.