Fire stabilization at the Spain-France border hindered by strong winds

More than 130 people were evacuated on Saturday following a fire that broke out on the Spanish coast near the French border the day before. Several hundred others were confined to villages or campsites that attract thousands of tourists every summer.


Catalan and French firefighters are working together. They are trying to control a fire that is spreading across nearly 600 hectares of the Spanish Mediterranean coast near the border. Strong winds are fanning the flames, making it difficult for water bombers to intervene.

The fire broke out on Friday evening in the south of the border town of Portbou, a highly touristy forested area with a station that allows connections between France and Spain.

On Saturday afternoon, several localities were still under confinement due to the flames, and the national road leading to Portbou and the French town of Cerbère remained closed. However, a firefighter official told journalists that the situation was evolving “favorably.”

At 1:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. GMT), approximately 573 hectares were affected, according to provisional data from Catalan forest guards. An investigation is still underway to determine the exact origin of the fire, according to regional authorities.

The fire “remains active” and the priority is to contain its progression towards the south to prevent it from reaching the town of Llançà, the firefighters added, specifying that over 2,500 hectares were threatened in that direction.

The fire is spreading due to the Tramontane wind, with gusts reaching nearly 100 km/h during the night before decreasing in intensity in the morning, preventing water bombers from participating in the operations. The hilly topography also complicates access to the flames.

The aerial operations of the firefighters remained mainly limited to surveillance on Saturday afternoon due to the persistent strong gusts, which could intensify in the evening according to weather forecasts.

Approximately 300 Spanish firefighters are mobilized, as well as ten French trucks from the Pyrénées-Orientales department, which borders the area of the fire.

1,500 people without electricity

Around 135 people were evacuated during the night, according to the firefighters, while several hundred others were confined to villages or campsites that attract thousands of tourists every summer.

Volunteers from the Catalan Red Cross are participating in support operations for the population and assisting people who could not reach their residences.

According to Catalan Civil Protection, more than 1,500 people are still without electricity on Saturday afternoon, and “train traffic remains suspended” between Portbou and the city of Figueras, about thirty kilometers further south.

The Catalan firefighters stated that four of their members and two citizens were being treated by emergency medical services for minor injuries related to the fire.

In 2022, nearly 500 fires have ravaged over 300,000 hectares in Spain, breaking records in Europe, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). This year, the number of burned hectares is around 70,000, according to the same source.


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