Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wild fire at Bédar

Yesterday morning Chris and I went for a short drive because I felt the urge to take some scenic photographs. I was saying only the other day, how very dry everything is, and how lucky we are not to have had more fires on the campo. As we drove towards home from the direction of Turre, I spotted a wisp of smoke on the horizon, and feared the worst.

Bédar is a little white villages on the hill behind Los Gallardos. We often take our visitors up there for a coffee, because, from the roof terrace of the bar, there is an amazing panoramic view over the hills and down to the sea. This is the story in pictures.

The first sighting of smoke from Turre, late Saturday morning.

The view from our garden at lunch time. We  followed the story on the web. The fire started near the road, between El Pinar and Bédar.

The view from the top of the village early afternoon. It was soon clear that the fire was spreading fast and getting close to the villages.

The police closed the road to Bédar, and only let the emergency vehicles through.

Water carrying helicopters and small planes were soon in action, and there was a constant scream of sirens as fire engines and ambulances raced up passed our village.

This is a press photo (courtesy of Fotogenia Estudio Garrucha) showing one of the water carrying planes refilling from the sea at Mojacar Playa, while bemused holdiday makers looked on.

This little surveillance plane was constantly circling round to spot and report any changes.

Late afternoon we walked up to the top of the village, and it was clear that the fire was still spreading. It was very close to Bédar village and the families there were evacuated to the new leisure centre at Los Gallardos. 

By sundown the fire had moved around Bédar and was raging up the hills behind it. You can see the flames as they crested then next hill.

This morning the fire appeared to have ended. There was just a faint hint of smoke in the distance. Local reports said it continued to burn in one small area but it was under control and was expected to burn itself out very soon.
However, at tea-time today there was a lot of air activity, and two helicopters were busy. This time I could see them coming down to a big agricultural reservoir just behind the leisure centre to collect water, and taking off to a location further away, but in the same area. 
It suggests that the fire has broken out again a bit further over, but there are no reports on the web yet. I hope they were able to stop it quickly. It is now too dark for the planes to operate.

We have heard that Bédar itself was saved, thanks mainly to 100 army engineers from Seville, who worked through the night building a fire break around the village. I am filled with admiration for the men who are trained to fight the wild fires. There were 2000 personnel involved in this operation, from many different locations, but they all co-ordinate the work, and put their own lives at risk, to save others. Reports say that several houses have been lost. These are the individual, isolated properties that are dotted all over the hills surrounding Bédar village. The houses themselves are usually stone, so they don't burn, but everything inside them does. Some of these were probably unoccupied, owned by British people who only come out occasionally. There have only been two casualties reported, both fire-fighters who were treated for smoke inhalation. We continue to melt here in the heat of the sun, so what it is like to work in such a furnace is unimaginable. And as I said, they do a wonderful job.

Remember you can click on any of these photos to see them better.

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