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Firefighters brace for ‘worst day’ of heatwave as wildfire controlling attempts continue

The southern Catalonia blaze no longer has powerful active fronts but remains burning

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28 June 2019 11:31 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The fire in southern Catalonia continues to burn but no longer has strong active fronts. This comes as the interior minister warns firefighting crews to brace for the "worst day" of the heatwave that has covered the continent and led to the blaze.

So far, park rangers say 5,700 hectares of land has been burned in the wildfire.

An official from the national fire brigade, Antonio Ramos, explained that the main objective from now on is to reduce the intensity in the north flank. 

Ramos insisted that today is the "most critical" day in terms of weather conditions, given that temperatures are predicted to be "much higher than yesterday" and the wind from the south will make their objectives more difficult.

On Thursday, temperatures in some parts of inland Catalonia reached 42 degrees Celsius

In this regard, the interior minister, Miquel Buch, has called for extreme precautions against "the worst day" of the heat wave.

Access to Montserrat monastery, mountain, and other surrounding mountains have been prohibited for 48 hours as of Thursday, while some roads in the vicinity of the fire remain closed too.

Catalan firefighters announced that by 3 pm on Friday, 80% of the perimeter of the blaze was controlled, and they were focussing efforts on the north side, which remained active. 

Small farmers complain of restrictions

Meanwhile, Catalonia's farmers complained about government restrictions placed on harvesting crops as a result of the high risk of wildfires.

The small farmers' union called the decision "arbitrary" and a show of "contempt" towards small farmers, arguing that the restriction should have been agreed with the sector.

The union added that it understood the "exceptional nature" of the situation caused by the heatwave, but said most wildfires had nothing to do with farming activity.

Citing official figures, the union said the use of agricultural machinery causes "only 4% of forest fires," compared to 6.4% caused by cigarettes and 5.5% caused by electrical lines.

 

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  • Authorities close access to the Montserrat mountain and monastery and other surrounding mountains due to the fire burning in southern Catalonia. (Photo: Albert Lijarcio)

  • Image of an area affected by the blaze in southern Catalonia. (Photo: Salvador Miret)

  • Authorities close access to the Montserrat mountain and monastery and other surrounding mountains due to the fire burning in southern Catalonia. (Photo: Albert Lijarcio)
  • Image of an area affected by the blaze in southern Catalonia. (Photo: Salvador Miret)

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