15,000 evacuated as forest fire rages

15,000 evacuated as forest fire rages

29 January 2009

published by www.euroweeklynews.com

Spain — More than 1,000 hectares destroyed and 700 people involved in extinguishing the flames

ON Saturday morning at around 9:30am, La Nucia (Alicante) fell victim to a massive forest fire on the hillsides of the Puig Campana mountain. The blaze forced up to 15,000 residents from surrounding urbanisations to evacuate their homes. The column of smoke was clearly visible from nearby Benidorm, Finestrat, Alfas del Pi and Altea. Anxious locals waited nervously as they watched the inferno from afar. Although strong winds hampered attempts by fire crews to put out the blaze, it was finally extinguished at about 6.30pm on Sunday evening.

The area devastated by the fire is estimated to be 1,000 hectares. Conflicting reports of the location where the blaze started place its origin at El Copet and the Panorama urbanisation. The cause of the fire is thought to be electricity pylons blown down by gale-force winds causing sparks to ignite surrounding bushes.

After a day that for many seemed endless, residents were able to return to their homes to assess the damage caused and to clear away the debris, whilst keeping a watchful an eye on the mountain for any more signs of smoke or fire.

Pelican planes were seen scooping up water in Altea destined for the area affected by the fire. Even hours after it was put out, the planes continued to drop their loads on the land to avoid further outbreaks. More than 700 professionals from the fire service, Civil Protection, Guardia Civil, National Police, Local Police, Generalitat Police, emergency engineers and environmental officers were involved in the operation. There are no reports of casualties, other than one unfortunate officer from Finestrat Local Police who fractured his ankle.

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