Torrevieja inferno

A POTENTIALLY dangerous blaze was noticed just 400m from the abandoned Spa Project and next to the Salinas de Torrevieja’s pink lake at 4.40pm Sunday.

With high winds providing the perfect weather to fan the flames, the inferno was dangerously close to homes in the El Limonar urbanization, with local residents quickly bringing out their own buckets of water and garden hoses to try and keep the fire under control.

The strong winds helped spread the flames at an unusual speed but, as luck would have it, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction to the nearby houses and thus no major damage was reported.

The size of the fire could be seen from as far away as the city of Orihuela, as smoke bellowed into the atmosphere. Such was the severity of the blaze that three fire engines attended the scene from Torrevieja plus a forest unit and a tanker.

Additional support was provided by additional vehicles from Orihuela, Almoradi, Villena, Tibi and Enguera (Valencia).

Ninety minutes later, the weather changed as dark clouds appeared accompanied by thunder and forked lighting, which was dangerously close to striking the same area.

Although the rain helped to dampen the fire, the strong winds continued to allow it to spread, while ground crews did their best to control its advance on the nearby houses.

Hundreds of people braved the wet and windy weather to obtain a close up view of the action for themselves, requiring the assistance of the Polica Local, Guardia Civil and Protection Civil, to manage the crowds and provide traffic control.

The members from the volunteer Protection Civil also stepped in when required to assist the fire fighters.

The main public attraction was not the fire itself but the arrival of a specially equipped helicopter and especially the appearance of Seaplane from the Hidroavión del Consorcio de Bomberos de la Diputación de Alicante.

The sight of the Seaplane returning time and time again, flying in at an altitude of probably less than 30-metres and ‘bombing’ the blaze with water, was an impressive sight.

More and more spectators arrived from about 7pm, to watch the ‘show’ as the heavy rain had stopped to be replaced by blue-sky and sunshine.

The pilot quickly earned the respect and admiration of all returning on his ‘bombing mission’ every five minutes, to continually dampen the blaze.

Thankfully, the heavy rain helped to douse the fire, which was completely extinguished by 7.30pm.

The fire destroyed more than two hectares of reeds and vegetation of the Natural Park of Las Lagunas and although fire fighters were unable to identify the cause at the time, it would be unreasonable to not think that was the work of arsonists, who have been behind countless fires in the region this year.

But for the quick action from local residents, fire fighters, law enforcement officers and volunteers, the cost of this particular blaze could have been of major magnitude, not seen before in Torrevieja.

Without the fortune of the heavy rain and the wind blowing the fire away from the houses and towards the lake, major damage could have been experienced by property and wildlife, along with more hectares of valuable vegetation being destroyed.

By Keith Nicol

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