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Catalonia on alert for high forest fire risks due to African heat wave

It is expected that the heat wave will last from Thursday to Saturday and that temperatures will climb to at least 34ºC throughout Catalonia. The Catalan Government has closed eight forest areas of high risk and has limited agricultural activity. Civil Protection is on ‘pre-alert’ in 27 counties and firefighters have began pre-emptive surveillance of areas that will be at risk. In other developments, the Catalan Police have found DNA on the cigarette butt which started the fires in Portbou.


08 August 2012 09:42 PM


ACN / Guillem Sanchez / David Tuxworth

Barcelona (ACN).- Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Felip Puig, has warned that the heat wave in Catalonia between Thursday and Saturday will coincide with \u201Cthe driest\u201D forest areas seen in the past 30 years, a situation that has forced the Catalan Government to activate systems to minimise forest fire risks. Rural activity will be severely limited in risk zones, authorisation for use of fire for agricultural reasons has been cancelled and access closed to eight forest areas of Catalonia where there is thought to be a high risk. Civil Protection has is on \u2018pre-alert\u2019 in 27 counties. The Minister also confirmed that DNA has been found on the remains of the cigarette butt that caused the fire Portbou, but it has not been possible to identify who it belongs to yet.

Catalonia is on alert for the heat wave that according to Meteorological Service of Catalonia (SMC) will affect all four of its provinces, but central and southern areas will be the most affected. The hot current of air from North Africa will increase temperatures that could exceed 34ºC on the coast and 39ºC in Lleida and near the Ebro River. According to the SMC it is not a long heat wave and is not particularly unusual for this time of year. However Civil Protection has activated the alert for high temperatures and has advised that people avoid outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, hydrate themselves properly and take special care of babies and the elderly.

High risk of fire

Catalonia is preparing for a heat wave that will increase \u201Cthe usual summer temperatures\u201D. Felip Puig warned on Wednesday that the heat wave will coincide with \u201Cthe driest\u201D areas of forest that Catalonia has seen in the past 30 years. The Catalan Government has therefore decided to implement mechanisms to minimise the risk of forest fires.

The Catalan Ministry of Agriculture announced on Tuedsay that it has closed access to Les Gavarres, the Massís de Cadiretes, and the Massís de l'Albera in Girona; Tortosa-Beseit park, Tivissa Vandellòs area, Montsant, Prades, and the Serra de Cardó Boix in Tarragona. Puig explained that the people who live in these areas are allowed to enter. However road access is prohibited to others, considering that the woods are \u201Cvery vulnerable\u201D.  

Civil Protection is on \u2018pre-alert\u2019 in 27 counties in Catalonia. Firefighters are also preparing with some aerial surveillance so in the case of a forest fire the alarm can be raised quickly. Over the course of the upcoming days, several mobile units will be situated throughout the countryside.

The Catalan Police find DNA on the cigarette butt found in Portbou

The Catalan Police (Mossos d'Esquadra) have found DNA on the discarded cigarette butt which caused the forest fire in Portbou. Puig hopes that a breakthrough as a result of the findings would act as a \u201Cdeterrent\u201D to those who have a careless attitude towards the risk of forest fires. The DNA has been checked with the Police Database, but no match has been found.


  • Landscape after the last July's Alt Empordà County's forest fires (by J. Pujolar)

  • Landscape after the last July's Alt Empordà County's forest fires (by J. Pujolar)