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Wildfire rages as firefighters brace for ‘critical hours’

Blaze in Bellprat and Santa Coloma de Queralt has potential to burn 5,000 hectares

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25 July 2021 01:17 PM

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ACN | Santa Coloma de Queralt

Firefighters battling a wildfire that has already burnt over 1,200 hectares of fields and forests in Catalonia were bracing for "critical hours" on Sunday, with the blaze having the potential to affect 5,000 hectares.

The fire started on Saturday afternoon in Santa Coloma de Barberà, a municipality in the Conca de Barberà county, in the southern region of Tarragona.

The flames advanced rapidly and reached Bellprat, a village in the neighboring Anoia county, in central Catalonia, and could soon affect the municipality of Sant Martí de Tous. 

  • "The fire is very active. The coming two hours will be critical, very important"

    Joan Ignasi Elena · Interior minister

By Sunday at 12:00 pm, the wildfire had already affected 1,228 hectares, largely in Bellprat, which makes it the most destructive blaze in Catalonia so far this summer, including one that affected the Cap de Creus natural park in the Costa Brava coast.

Speaking from the field, the interior minister of the Catalan government, Joan Ignesi Elena, said he expected Sunday to be "a long and complicated day."

"The fire is very active. The coming two hours will be critical, very important," said Elena.

Catalan authorities urged citizens to be extremely cautious to prevent new wildfires from happening, and also to limit activities outdoors.

More than 400 people are working to put out the flames, including 300 firefighters, 16 aerial units, 50 emergency workers from the army, 70 volunteers from the forest protection teams, and several farmers.

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