VIDEO: Passengers trapped on train engulfed by flames during huge wildfire in Spain

Fifteen people were injured in eastern Spain on Tuesday after the train on which they travelled had to stop for two hours on the tracks due to a huge wildfire, with authorities and affected passengers still trying to understand why they received no prior warning.

fire train bejis spain
Upon reaching the forest fire in Bejís, 70 kilometres northwest of Valencia, the train’s conductor decided to stop the vehicle, having not been warned beforehand that the tracks ran directly through the wildfire. Screenshot: Twitter

Forty-nine passengers on board a train travelling between Valencia and Zaragoza on Tuesday August 16th watched in horror as for two hours they were surrounded by flames near the town of Bejís, which is currently experiencing one of Spain’s worst wildfires this year. 

Upon reaching the forest fire in Bejís, 70 kilometres northwest of Valencia, the train’s conductor decided to stop the vehicle, having not been warned beforehand that the tracks ran directly past the wildfire. 

Footage shared online by some of the passengers reflects their concerns as they approached the area and how upon grinding to a halt, many of them panicked as the flames were only metres away. 

One passenger exclaimed “we have to call 112 (Spain’s emergency services)” as she struggled to gasp for air, while another person commented on how the train should go back. 

“There were around 60 people on board and our lives were in danger at all times,” one passenger told Spanish national daily El Mundo.   

“What we don’t understand is why the train left Valencia in the first place as the wildfire had already started the night before,” the 30-year-old woman added.

The passenger in question has told the Spanish press that she approached the engine driver to ask if it would be possible to go past the blaze, who responded that it would be. 

But the passengers soon noticed that the temperature in the carriages began to increase dramatically, that smoke was entering the train and that the fire was “literally next to them”. 

According to the woman’s account, it was at this point that the engine driver stopped the train, tried to activate the lever to go back but that it appeared to be stuck, at which point the driver “lost the plot completely”. 

Fifteen people were injured during the incident, six of them with burns and the rest due to smoke inhalation. Two of the passengers suffered serious burns whilst one is currently in critical condition.

According to Spain’s state-owned rail company Renfe and railway infrastructure manager Adif, neither entity was informed that the wildfire in Bejís, which has so far burned more than 6,000 hectares of land, was close to the tracks.

Adif added that the engine driver stopped the train after coming across “an intense amount of ash and smoke” and that she proceeded to contact management for clarification on what to do next.

According to their statement, several passengers got off the train despite their warnings not to do so, in some cases using the hammers to break the windows. It was at this point that most injuries were reportedly sustained. 

Renfe has opened an internal investigation to clarify the events.

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Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Spain's state train operator Renfe has tweaked the terms and conditions for its free train travel offer in order to avoid 'ghost reservations'. Here's everything you need to know.

Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Renfe has changed the terms and conditions of reservations on its free travel offer for regional Media Distancia services, valid until the end of 2022, in order to avoid ‘ghost reservations.’ 

Announced by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez during the ‘State of the Nation’ debate in the Spanish Congress in August, the free multi-journey ticket scheme is an offer on some trains operated by the state-owned train network, Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

READ MORE: All you need to know about Spain’s plan for free train tickets

READ MORE: GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

But some passengers have been abusing the offer, it seems, by block booking tickets and never using them. In response, Renfe have tweaked their terms for taking up the offer on Media Distancia journeys.

Unlike on the Cercanías and Rodalies routes, which are also included in the free travel offer, on Media Distancia routes it is possible to reserve a seat, and some travellers have been making more than one reservation on the same route for different times through the day or week in order to secure a place, and then choosing the most convenient departure.

As a result, many services were fully booked with ‘ghost reservations’ days before their departure and preventing passengers who needed to buy a ticket from being able to do so.

This loophole was particularly widespread on regional routes in Galicia and Castilla-La Mancha, and from now on, Media Distancia customers can only buy tickets for a maximum of four daily trips (two return journeys) on Media Distancia trains, and can only buy the return journey when the initial journey has been made.

READ MORE: TRAVEL: Tourists in Spain will also be eligible for free train tickets

“It is a question of guaranteeing the good use of the free passes for recurrent travelers and that as many people as possible can benefit,” Renfe sources said in the Spanish media.

READ ALSO: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Renfe’s free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and will end at the end of the year, on December 31st. In order to obtain the offer, travelers must pay a €20 deposit that is returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the offer period.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, as of Monday September 12th, Renfe had already issued over 1 million free passes for Cercanías and Media Distancia trains.