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Costa Brava wildfire still out of control after over 400 hectares burnt and firefighters injured

Cigarette butt thought to have caused disaster, which mostly affects Cap de Creus natural park

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17 July 2021 05:36 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The wildfire in the northernmost part of Costa Brava declared on Friday early afternoon continued out of control one day later.

On Saturday early afternoon, the area burnt was 410 hectares, most of which inside the Cap de Creus iconic natural park. This entails popular sites such as Cadaqués, Portlligat and the Sant Pere de Rodes monastery – a UNESCO heritage site. It was first estimated at 453 hectares, but after the visibility improved, authorities reduced the impact of the flames.

Indeed, the religious residence is only one of the buildings evacuated due to the wildfire, along with the residential areas of Santa Isabel, Vall de Santa Creu, and Beleser – all in all, affecting around 350 people. Over 200 have been lodged in local premises of El Port de la Selva.

Trying to find out author of 'negligence'

The natural disaster declared in the town of Llançà is thought to be caused by a cigarette butt that was found in the site where the fire began.

Rural officers head Josep Antoni Mur said it will be difficult to find DNA in the butt in order to know dropped it, but added that authorities will do their best to find it out.

For him, it is "very likely" that the cigarette was thrown from a car, since the butt was found just outside the tarmac.

For the Catalan interior minister, Joan Ignasi Elena, having to fight a wildfire "due to a possible negligence is outrageous."

Current situation: 'very unstable'

Firefighter Santi Lleonart said to the press that the situation is "very unstable" because the strong northern winds, called locally Tramuntana and very typical of the area, might change the progression of the flames anytime.

"At the moment, a large part of its perimeter is in process of being stabilized," he said on Saturday morning, arguing that the work at night and the aerial units in operation since the sunrise have been key.

The fire is progressing southbound, threatening La Selva de Mar and La Vall de la Creu, in the municipality of El Port de la Selva.

Around 90 firefighters vehicles are tackling the disaster, as well as some 15 aerial units, with help from other high capacity planes in Spain and France requested. They are all facing flames of between two and three meters.

The GI-512 road was closed off to traffic in Port de la Selva, as was the GI-513 in Roses, towards Port de la Selva, GIP-6041 in Vilajuïga and GIV-6121 in El Port de la Selva.

Professionals injured

Four firefighters and a member of a Forest Defense Group ADF were injured while attempting to put out the flames.

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  • The wildfire in Costa Brava seen from El Port de la Selva, on July 16, 2021

  • The wildfire in Costa Brava seen from El Port de la Selva, on July 16, 2021

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