Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The constant threat of fires

Three blazes, thought to have been started deliberately, were all put out last Wednesday in the Marina Alta area, north Costa Blanca. One blaze broke out at 4pm in Lliber. It had two centres, one in Alcanalí and another in Pedeguer close to the residential Monte Solana area.

The Mayor of Pedeguer, Andrés Ferrer, said it seemed the blaze had been started deliberately. Two fire-fighting helicopters were used and the blaze was declared to be out at 7.30pm.

Two earlier small fires in the region are also both thought to have been started deliberately.

The following day on Thursday, saw another three fires take hold. In Guardamar, firefighters fought all afternoon, against an ever-increasing wall of flames, as they tried to protect a nearby petrol station from becoming engulfed and resulting in disaster.

The fire, which had started sometime around midday, had gone unnoticed until smoke began billowing across the Agip petrol station forecourt, adjacent to the N-332, and the alarm was raised. By then, the flames had taken on such ferocity that three engines were called into attendance but still the fire, fanned by a strong breeze, crept towards the petrol station on the ease side of the road. Guardia, Policia Local and fire crews needed face masks as the smoke completely swallowed up the petrol station. Incredibly, cars pulled in, drivers got out of their cars, choked…and tried to fill up. After three hours, the fire had spread and threatened the petrol station from two sides while firefighters struggled to contain it. However, at four o’clock and with the fire now under control, although still burning viciously, a water-carrying plane was called for and within minutes of it dumping its load onto the flames the fire crews on the ground managed to start winning the battle.

Fire investigators at the scene expect to pin the blame on a stray cigarette or litter that had piled up in the surrounding scrubland catching fire in the heat of the day. Fortunately, no injuries were reported on the day and the services united in warning people of the dangers created by throwing cigarettes and litter into the verge.

Later that afternoon at urbanisation La Marina, a further fire sent thick black smoke billowing in to the sky at around 5pm causing concern amongst residents.

The owner of the Los Pinchos restaurant, opposite where the blaze started, was first to raise the alarm calling the emergency services just after 5pm. Policia Local were immediately on the scene directing traffic away from the fire as fire crews from Santa Pola and the Vega Baja arrived shortly after. The rapid intervention meant damage was limited and the fire was contained.

And in the evening, in El Galan, a forest fire broke out on the road from the urbanisation to San Miguel. The smoke was first notoced at about 6.30pm. Thankfully the wind was blowing the flames away from property. Again, the fire was contained quickly.

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