Firefighters contain major blaze as confinement of nearby towns is lifted
Wildfire in Conca del Barberà and Anoia counties fully stabilized
A major wildfire in Catalonia is, as of midday on Monday, considered to be fully stabilized as firefighters have successfully controlled all of the blaze's perimeter.
Their efforts have been aided, in part, by the heavy rain that began to fall around 9 am.
The fire started on Saturday afternoon in the Conca de Barberà county, in the southern Catalan region of Tarragona, and advanced raging toward municipalities in the neighboring Anoia county, forcing evacuations and the confinement of some towns, which was later lifted on Monday. Residents are now being allowed to return to their homes.
Five highway sections in the area that were closed to traffic have also been reopened.
Having burnt around 1,700 hectares, mostly of forest but also of agricultural land and a handful of hectares used for urban activities, the wildfire has been the most destructive of the summer.
Forest workers are yet to determine what started the fire but have ruled out natural causes such as lightning. "We are considering all hypotheses," said chief inspector Josep Antoni Mur.
Ramon Mullerat, the mayor of the affected town of Santa Coloma de Queralt, suggested a few days ago that the fire could have possibly been started by a cigarette.
"We haven't been able to find a cigarette butt," Mur said on Sunday, adding that high-pressure water jets had made their search for clues more difficult.