The flames stop trains and highways and close the French border

Fire in the province of Ourense. / EFE/Video: Atlas

Orense burns on all four sides and Galicia, with more than 40,000 hectares burned, is already the second most damaged territory after Zamora

The hottest summer in decades gives no pause. From mid-June, every day the fires devastate hundreds or thousands of forest hectares in practically all of Spain until they have converted the year, already with a great difference over the previous ones, in which the largest area of ​​groves and scrubland has burned in this century.

The official data, which always suffers from a delay in the notification of the real dimension of the disasters, indicates that the land devastated by the fire in 2022 exceeded 162,000 hectares as of July 31. However, the scientific satellites of the European Copernicus system affirm that the Spanish territory that can be seen burned from the sky already exceeds 240,000 hectares.

But the flames not only consume the forest and the meadows, the smoke and fire have forced no less than 20,000 residents and vacationers from rural towns and settlements to run away with what they are wearing from their homes, most of the time at dawn. , have caused hundreds of injuries, most among the members of the firefighting teams, and, as happened yesterday, have altered the functioning of the transport infrastructure.

The fires that devastated Galicia and the neighboring French department of Las Landes this Thursday caused the temporary suspension of railway communications, the closure of a motorway that connects the peninsula with central Europe and even the closure of the French border for hours to the passage of trucks.

The railway line that goes from Orense to Santiago de Compostela was cut between Wednesday afternoon and yesterday morning due to the high risk that the fronts that burned O Irixo would reach the tracks. This fire with two outbreaks, one intentional and the other caused by sparks thrown by the train, forced the evacuation of several farmhouses, burned some 680 hectares and forced Renfe to move passengers by bus, surrounding the fire.

monumental traffic jam

Although the real collapse of communications was triggered this Thursday for hours by the fire that since Tuesday has burned some 7,000 hectares of forest at the confluence of the French regions of Les Landes and Bordeaux. The fire, which is progressing uncontrollably and led France to ask neighboring countries for help to extinguish it, forced the A-63 motorway that connects Spain with the center of the continent through Bordeaux to be closed for hours and to prohibit the passage of trucks through the Irún border, which was reopened after noon. The result was a monumental jam, with miles and miles of stopped trucks, parked on shoulders or rest areas, and with traffic jams on both sides.

On Thursday, emergency evacuations were also repeated. It was in the Cáceres town of Torre de Don Miguel, located in the Sierra de Gata, threatened by the flames of the fire that started 24 hours earlier in nearby Santibáñez el Alto, most likely set on fire by an arsonist, like others declared in the last few weeks in this area. It was necessary to evict 500 neighbors, among them the inmates of a nursing home. Some and others accommodated as they could in a pavilion, another residence and a hospital in Moraleja.

The Spanish focus of the fires was in the province of Orense, which was literally burning on all four sides. Six large fires burned some 2,500 hectares to add to the 5,000 at the beginning of August. Since the beginning of summer in Galicia, especially in Orense, more than 40,000 hectares have been burned. It is, by far, the territory most damaged by fire after Zamora, which lost 60,000 hectares in two megafires alone.

The flames also raged in Castilla y León, with a fire of 400 hectares in the park of Las Arribes del Duero (Salamanca) and another of 900, which consumed part of the Montaña de Riaño, near the Parque Nacional de los Picos de Europe, but that the rain had helped stabilize it.

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