1000’s trapped, road rail cut, as deadly fire rages out of control
Lorries at La Jonquera, the main Spanish/French border crossing this evening
Chaos in the Alt Empordà. A fire virulent, with much flame and fed by very strong gusts from the north, left yesterday from La Jonquera and moved through the region at a rate unheard of, so much so that at midnight the flames were roaming “uncontrolled” in the words of the Minister for Interior, Felip Puig. Besides the acres burned, more than 13,000 at midnight, the consequences of fire in La Jonquera and other focus, small but deadly, that erupted in Portbou were fatal: 3 deaths and about twenty wounded, 2 of them seriously ; evict farms and towns; recommendation of home confinement of all the inhabitants of the Alt Empordà (about 140,000) and trapped thousands of motorists on highways and roads, cutting early in the afternoon, the AP-7 and N- 2.
Climate Chaos comes to Catalonia
What apparently began as a simple brush fire shortly after the one p.m. soon resulted in disaster. Paradoxically, not the virulent deadly fire, but a smaller loosed in the N-260, in Portbou. Cornered by flames, a man of 60 years and daughter of 15 left the car and jumped into the sea from a cliff. A French citizen was also killed in Llers a result of a heart attack.
From the control center was established in Figueres, Puig reported that more than 80 fire crews, Catalan and French, and one hundred members of Civil Protection in last night working out the fire. They also planned to join a military unit (EMU), while air assets remained on the ground because the wind prevented them from performing their work. There were fears that the fire reached the Garrotxa. At midnight, Artur Mas moved to the area.
North/South highway, rail and train links cut
According to some reports, the fire began at Fort Bellagarde, a seventeenth-century fortress located in the municipality of Le Pertús, in France. Several neighborhoods of La Jonquera were evacuated and about 150 residents took shelter on a temporary basis in the sports of the border population. Among the first evicted by the Mossos there were 74 children and 17 adults who were in the house Estanys colonies and were transferred to the military camp Sescebes Sant Climent.
The train traffic was interrupted between Girona and Portbou, like the high-speed connection between Figueres and Perpignan. As a result of fire also cut the electricity supply of 3,500 subscribers and about 1,725 were affected phone lines.
The intense smoke that darkened the sky and in less than an hour could be seen from almost all the region forced to cut the AP-7 and the N-2 in both directions. The closure of these two main routes between Girona and Barcelona, but also between Spain and France, led to major delays. In Girona, queues formed over 25 kilometers and the same happened in the French part due to the closure of the A9 highway D900 and, linking Perpignan to Figueres.
One of those deductions in the N-260 is most likely started the fire deadly Portbou. Many motorists, retained by the monumental traffic jam, abandoned vehicles to escape the flames.
Firefighters advised the farmers to undertake fire to hinder the passage of the front devastating. The Catalan Traffic advised motorists not to travel to Girona and recommended to go south and use the Cadi tunnel to traveling to France. This payment method your barriers up from seven in the evening.
Almost from the first hours of the fire, Civil Protection advised that neighbors remain confined Agullana, Capmany, Biure, Vilarnadal, Sant Climent and Masarac Sescebes. Later, the recommendation was extended to the whole region. “We have decreed compulsory confinement in all villages of the region,” the minister said Puig.
Tonight’s fire is one of many already devastating parts of Spain, with August yet to come. The patterns of extreme weather can be linked to worldwide climate change disasters due to excessive and rapidly increasing CO2 release.