Wildfire in southern Catalonia finally under control

Fire service says it will take "indefinite number of days" before blaze will be completely extinguished, while authorities begin to count the cost

A building left in ruins from the major wildfire in southern Catalonia. (Photo: Miquel Colodar)
A building left in ruins from the major wildfire in southern Catalonia. (Photo: Miquel Colodar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 1, 2019 12:44 PM

Monday saw a score of firefighting crews taking turns to confirm that last week's major wildfire, which affected some 6,000 hectares in southern Catalonia, was indeed under control as the authorities had announced on Sunday evening.

Some 50 firefighting crews worked throughout the day on Sunday to finally bring the blaze under control, although their efforts were not helped by the weather conditions, with extreme temperatures, low humidity, and high winds.

Despite managing to control the wildfire, the fire service said it would take "an indefinite number of days" before it could be considered completely extinguished. Yet, dozens of people who had been evacuated were allowed to return to their homes.

At its height, as many as 120 different firefighting crews and some 40 fire engines, as well as aircraft, were in action combating the wildfire, which began on Wednesday as Catalonia was hit by a record heatwave.

Damage evaluation process begins

Monday saw the beginning of the process of evaluating the damage caused by the fire in eight municipalities. Meanwhile, the authorities are due to meet on Saturday to discuss a plan to provide assistance to the counties of Ribera d'Ebre, Segrià and Garrigues.

The wildfire, one of the worst to ever hit Catalonia, is thought to have been caused by a store of manure self-combusting as temperatures climbed above 40ºC. The manure pile "caused enough heat to explode and generate sparks," reported interior minister, Miquel Buch.

Although temperatures are expected to start falling this week, the civil protection agency is remaining on high alert until the wildfire is finally extinguished, and as long as the risk of forest fires continues to be high in a number of areas in Catalonia.