What we know about the Costa Blanca wildfires
Fiona Govan · 6 Sep 2016, 11:43
Published: 06 Sep 2016 11:43 GMT+02:00
- Police hunt for Costa Blanca fire starters (06 Sep 16)
- Spain swelters as September heatwave continues (05 Sep 16)
- Forest fires threaten Costa Blanca resort of Jávea (05 Sep 16)
Authorities on Tuesday morning said the fires had been brought under control around Benitatxell and Jávea, although they were not yet extinguished completely. Meanwhile another fire in near Bolulla continued to rage out of control.
Three separate fires broke out within minutes of each other on Sunday afternoon around Javea a seaside town between Alicante and Valencia on Spain’s eastern coast and Benitatxell which is slightly more inland.
Another fire raged across hillsides in Bolulla.
This interactive map shows the fires:
The first flames were detected at around 4pm in the Mirador Cumbres del Sol area of Benitatxell. While firefighters battled to bring it under control another fire was reported in nearby El Saladar, an area very close to the El Arenal beach in Jávea, a residential zone where people had to be evacuated from their home.
On Sunday night people were forced to leave the urbanizations of Tossalet, Pinosol, Cansalades, Villes Al Vent, Valle del Sol and La Guardia.
Holidaymakers at El Naranjal campsite were also ordered to leave.
On Tuesday morning firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control helped by 20 water carrying aircraft.
At midday on Tuesday, the Guardia Civil announced they had to close the CV-715, the road between Bolulla and Tàrbena as the wildfire spread across the Coll de Rates the Sierra de Bèrnia.
Over a thousand people forced to flee their homes
Around 1,400 people were evacuated from their homes during the course of Sunday night and into Monday according to figures released by the region’s emergency services.
“They kept saying over loudspeakers for us to leave our homes and throw any gas canisters into our swimming pools,” Fernando Blat, who owns a house near the residential estate of El Tossalet, told El Pais.
Officials said that around 20 houses around Jávea had been destroyed.
By Tuesday the perimeter of the fires around Benitatxell and Jávea appeared to be contained and residents were allowed back into their homes.
But another fire raged out of control across a forest in Bolulla on during Monday night forcing the evacuation of around 100 people including 20 guests at a rural hotel in the zone. At least 40 buildings were gutted by the flames.
Holiday day 2. The fire is kicking off again round the back of the appartment. Javea beach corespondent here pic.twitter.com/j4rSpkUCUo— Chris Stark (@Chris_Stark) September 5, 2016
Police are in no doubt that the wildfires were sparked deliberately and believe the person or persons responsible may well have caused previous fires in the area.
On Monday afternoon police found several empty containers of gasoline that they believe were used by the arsonist to start the fires and are hopeful that they may provide evidence to help track the culprits down.
"This is environmental terrorism, it goes beyond putting at risk our natural heritage, it directly attacks people," the head of the regional government of Valencia, Ximo Puig, said.
Even as firefighters battled against flames in one zone, police believe that the firestarter was starting fires nearby.
‘It is too much of a coincidence that a fire has four starting points’ said Juan Carlos Moragues, the Government delegate for Valencia,after Seprona confirmed the four separate fronts.
Police have called for anyone who might have information that could lead to the arrest of those responsible to come forward.
Difficult weather conditions
The emergency services said that the extremely hot weather, 40km/h winds and 20 percent humidity were making it difficult to put out the fires.
Monday was one of the hottest days of the year with temperatures reaching over 40 C across the region and the heatwave was expected to continue until at least Wednesday, with zero chance of rain.