Pont de Vilomara wildfire stabilized after affecting over 1,700 hectares

Firefighters still worried about eastern flank and will continue working overnight

The wildfire in the Pont de Vilomara town on July 18, 2022 (by Nia Escolà)
The wildfire in the Pont de Vilomara town on July 18, 2022 (by Nia Escolà) / ACN

ACN | El Pont de Vilomara i Rocafort

July 18, 2022 07:55 PM

Firefighters celebrate that the Pont de Vilomara wildfire is stabilized more than 24 hours after it started. According to officials, the blaze has affected over 1,700 hectares and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and thousands to remain indoors.

At 8 pm, officials announced that the fire was stabilized and therefore, residents were allowed to leave their homes. Those evacuated, are able to return but only accompanied by law enforcement officers.

Those wanting to still be hosted in one of the centers set up by local authorities to spend the night will be welcomed. Some, however, will prefer to return to their house.

According to authorities, around 30 houses had been totally or partially affected by the fire in the River Park neighborhood, while fewer, but still some in the Les Brucardes one. Some of them had animals and old memories that quickly burned down.

Firefighters will continue to work overnight, especially the eastern flank which is the one that concerns authorities.

Possibly human-caused

Rural officers believe the fire could have been caused by humans. Antoni Mur, head of the team, explained on Monday morning that there had not been any thunderstorms in the area over the past few days that could have caused it. 

"It should be related to human activity due to an accident, negligence or it could have been intentional," he said, but an investigation will still need to take place.

To avoid future wildfires, Catalan president Pere Aragonès urged citizens to follow recommendations during this "extreme" situation, as the risk will "continue during the upcoming weeks," the president said before thanking the work done so far by emergency units, local authorities, and residents.

Other fires

Not long after 3 pm, a second, smaller fire broke out in an old landfill between Manresa and Pont de Vilomara. 

Firefighters quickly deployed several land and aerial units on the scene to avoid the fire from enlarging. Around 5pm, officials had confirmed the blaze was already under control. 

Another fire started on a hillside near the town of Àger, in Noguera county north of Lleida, around the same time. There are 10 land units and 9 aerial units working to put out the fire that is located in an area that is difficult to reach by road.

This is one of the fires that worries the most authorities as they want to avoid having "two simultaneous fires" in the territory, as David Borrell said.

As of 8:30 pm, around 50 hectares have been affected. It was caused by an accident as a helicopter was moving material for the refurbishment of a train line. The helicopter touched an electric poster causing the flames to burn the area.  

Heatwave restrictions

The ban on outdoor activities, including camping or hiking in natural parks, announced last Thursday to prevent wildfires will be extended, Elena said. 

In place in 275 municipalities, the minister explained that the number of cities and towns affected by the ban would be updated on Thursday at midnight, when authorities will also decide whether the measures should remain in place.

"The situation is very complicated here and across the country," Elena said. "Even when the temperature drops slightly, it is still above what is normal for this time of the year."

Almost all Catalan counties are at high or very high risk of wildfires.