Fire scorches Huelva Fire was con­tained be­fore just be­fore reach­ing Doñana Na­tional Park

Costa Levante News - - SPANISH NEWS -

By Dave Jamieson A MA­JOR fire which broke out in Huelva coun­try­side on Satur­day night forced thou­sands of peo­ple to be evac­u­ated and threat­ened Doñana Na­tional Park, burn­ing an area of over 8,000 hectares, ac­cord­ing to ini­tial es­ti­mates.

There was only one known fa­tal­ity: one of 14 Ibe­rian lynx moved from a con­ser­va­tion centre died from stress dur­ing the op­er­a­tion.

When the fire was first re­ported in a park area known as Las Peñue­las at 21.30 on Satur­day, a Level 1 emer­gency was de­clared and ground crews were quickly tack­ling the “very com­pli­cated” in­ci­dent.

The Maza­gón Parador was one of two ho­tels evac­u­ated overnight as a pre­cau­tion along with two camp­sites and a num­ber of pri­vate homes as winds of more than 90 kph fanned the flames.

By Sun­day morn­ing, the blaze had reached the edge of the Doñana Na­tional Park, forc­ing 2,000 peo­ple to be moved to safety and cut­ting off the beach re­sort of Mata­las­cañas, south east of the city of Huelva, for sev­eral hours. An es­ti­mated 50,000 vis­i­tors, in­clud­ing many week­enders from Sevilla, re­mained trapped af­ter both main roads out of the town were closed.

On Sun­day even­ing, one car- riage­way of the A-483 was re­opened al­low­ing them to es­cape, with all ve­hi­cles be­ing es­corted north to­wards El Rocío by Guardia Civil pa­trols.

The only other main road out of Mata­las­cañas, the A-494, re­mained closed at two points.

By Sun­day night, the fire was ad­vanc­ing in three di­rec­tions and roads which nor­mally act as fire­breaks were not ful­fill­ing this role. Fire­fight­ers said the strong winds had whipped up the flames to the point that they were sim­ply jumping across these bar­ri­ers.

Dur­ing Mon­day, fire­fight­ers grad­u­ally sta­bilised the fire and by Tuesday morn­ing the im­me­di­ate emer­gency was over with peo­ple al­lowed to re­turn to their homes.

Aerial re­con­nais­sance con­firmed that a large area within the perime­ter of the blaze re­mained un­af­fected while an­other had suf­fered min­i­mal dam­age.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der­way into the cause of the fire are sug­gest­ing that it did not start nat­u­rally, with re­gional en­vi­ron­ment coun­cil­lor José Fis­cal not­ing there had been no thun­der­storms re­ported but adding it re­mained to be seen if neg­li­gence was to blame.

The Pres­i­dent of An­dalucía, Su­sana Díaz, who vis­ited the area, said “the hu­man fac­tor” had not been ruled out.

Photo: EPA

The fire scorched an area of over 8,000 hec­tome­tres, ac­cord­ing to ini­tial es­ti­mates

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