Sunday, December 5

“It’s being like the worst nightmare”




«Our saw has been burned. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s all black. With these descriptive words, Jesús Martín, mayor of Solosancho, one of the towns affected by the virulent Navalacruz fire, tried to convey the “hours of panic, tension and anguish” experienced since the “fortuitous” breakdown of a vehicle on the N- 502, probably caused by the high temperatures of these days, has turned this beautiful spot in the Amblés Valley into flames since last Saturday.

At the moment, what has already been described as “one of the most serious fires” registered in Ávila and Castilla y León in recent years, has devastated more than 10,000 hectares -according to estimates by the Government Delegation-, with a perimeter that is around the 40 kilometers affected. Declared between the municipalities of Navalacruz and Cepeda La Mora, the fire was raised hours after its start to level 1 in anticipation that it could not be controlled in twelve hours. However, no one foresaw its fatal evolution in the following hours, mainly due to gusts of wind, which at some point exceeded 70 kilometers per hour. The virulence acquired by the flames at dawn on Sunday forced the Junta to raise the level again and order early in the morning the evacuation of the towns of Villaviciosa and Robledillo -anejos de Solosancho-, Palacio de Sotalbo, Sotalvo and Riofrío -although They were able to return in the late afternoon. By noon, some 900 people had already evacuated, “most of them older people” fleeing an “unbreathable” atmosphere, and five roads remained closed while the flames had destroyed several houses – still impossible to detail – and farms and livestock farms, whose animals were busy fleeing with their owners by road or cross country.

Among the evacuees are the parents of Félix Jiménez, owner of a rural house in Sotosalvo, who believes that “this could have been avoided” and defends that “nothing like this had ever happened.” “I will try to get closer if they let me help with whatever they need,” he told this newspaper.

Like Felix, there are many who yesterday decided to stay to fight the flames with what they could. This was the case of Inma, a resident of Solosancho, who confessed to this newspaper how “fear and frustration” had taken hold of her. As he described, around 3:00 pm, the fire came to be “five meters from the first houses” in the municipality, with several active sources: “They are being the worst hours of our lives. It’s like the worst nightmare. He also explained that in some cases “the owners themselves were in charge of watering the facades so that the flames did not enter the homes. One of those houses is being mine. I have my brother who has been trying all day not to keep our house on fire ». Another neighbor from the same town also recounted how he was trying to make firebreaks “and removing brush and small holm oaks that are found near farms with livestock.”

“All possible means”

And the fact is that the speed with which the flames spread made little help, despite the more than half a thousand workers deployed in the area. In the late afternoon, the regional government explained that Castilla y León had “all possible means of its own” involved in the extinction, to which were added those sent by neighboring communities, the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge and the Military Unit of Emergencies (with about 200 troops and 35 resources assigned to the Navalacruz and El Raso fires, the other important fire that also affects the province, which last night already dropped to level 1).

The main effort of the operation, he explained hours before the general director of Natural Heritage and Forest Policy, José Ángel Arranz, was to stop “the main head” of the fire, which is situated to the east-northwest, with several languages ​​in the northern part derived from the main fire. The evolution that it might have on the south face was also worrying, because it continued to advance uncontrollably, so it was unpredictable the conditions that it would have in the next few hours in towns located in that direction. “The fire has advanced in their forehead in an uncontrolled way, overcoming the firebreaks”, admitted the deputy delegate of the Board in the province, José Francisco Hernández, recalling that one of the purposes of the operation was “to save the non-forest assets that we could within our capabilities ”. “There is a lot of work that remains to be done, but we are in the best hands,” he pointed out, thanking the enormous work of the operation, as well as the “solidarity” on the part of the public administrations.

In Riofrío there were also those who chose to remain. Silvia González, owner of a rural tourism establishment, was one of them. He explained that at around 2:00 p.m. the flames began to enter the town’s plain, although then it stopped “because the air changed.” Despite the huge operation, the feeling that there were few media was widespread in the municipality. “We have only seen Civil Guard agents and a helicopter. Several neighbors are fighting so that their properties are not burned. The subdelegate argued that “very adverse conditions” could cause that visual perception of few troops: “If it has not been able to stop until now, it is because it has been materially impossible. Not because there was a lack of means, “he concluded.

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