UPDATE: Villanueva de Viver forest fire in Castellon finally declared ‘extinguished’ after 20 days

UPDATE: Villanueva de Viver forest fire in Castellon finally declared 'extinguished' after 20 days

Image of the fire in Castellon's Villanueva de Viver. Credit: Twitter@BombersDipcas

The huge forest fire that affected Villanueva de Viver in the Castellon and Teruel regions has finally been declared ‘extinguished’.

UPDATE: Tuesday, April 11 at 8:15pm

As reported this morning, Tuesday, April 11, by the Castellón Provincial Fire Department Consortium, the huge forest fire that has been burning for 20 days in the Villanueva de Viver area of Castellon has finally been declared ‘extinguished’.

During the course of those 20 days, the flames affected an estimated 4,700 hectares of great ecological value with a front spanning more than 50km, according to estimates from last week.

UPDATE: Friday, March 31 at 7:40pm

The forest fire that has been burning in the Castellon and Teruel region is slowly being brought under control by the huge number of firefighters who have been battling it for more than one week. It was declared to be ‘under control’ this afternoon, Friday, March 31. This does not mean that he flames have been extinguished fully yet though.

According to the Castellon Fire Brigade on its Twitter account: “From the PMA of #IFVillanuevaViver the very positive evolution of the fire is confirmed. The perimeter is consolidated, although work continues to review the most sensitive areas of the perimeter. 120 ground troops and 7 air assets are maintained”.

UPDATE: Thursday, March 30 at 8:36pm

As the ferocity of the forest fire in the Castellon and Teruel region does down, the residents of some municipalities have been allowed to return to their homes. Some 115 residents of Torralba del Pinar, Arañuel and Artejuela, have been informed that it is now safe to go home again.

They join those from the towns of Higueras, Pavias, Villanueva de Viver, Puebla de Arenoso, Los Cantos, and La Monzona, who also returned home yesterday, Wednesday, March 29.  

In her press briefing today, Gabriela Bravo, the Minister of Justice, explained: “The evolution of the fire has been very favourable over the last 24 hours. Throughout the night, the UME drones have worked to detect hot spots and, in this way, we have been able to organise and plan the entire strategy that has been carried out throughout the morning. Most of the resources have been concentrated in the hot spots of the three sensitive areas”.

The minister revealed that the three areas with critical points are those located next to Fuente de los Baños, the area where the fire started near Montan, and another next to Fuente la Reina, in Barrando de la Pudia.

So far, the fire has burned 4,700 hectares and has a perimeter of more than 50km. Around 300 ground troops and 17 aerial resources are working on it. The situation has also improved in the Teruel term of San Agustin, allowing the Operational Coordination Centre to lower the emergency level there to 0.

Although the forecast in Castellon was ‘high risk’ for today and Friday 31, due to the weather, the conditions finally turned out to be more favourable. Winds of up to 70km/h were expected, but they eventually ended up becoming gusts of between 15 and 20km/h.

As a result, only one incident was recorded, a reignition at around 4:30pm in the Fuente la Reina area. According to Andres Balfago, the technical director of the Advanced Command Post, it was quickly extinguished by land and air means, as reported by 20minutos.es.

UPDATE: Monday, March 27 at 6:45pm

As explained by Gabriela Bravo, the Minister of Justice, in her press conference this evening, Monday, March 27, more than 4,300 hectares have been consumed by the forest fire that is burning out of control in Castellon and Teruel, as reported by levante-emv.com.

The Villanueva de Viver blaze currently has a perimeter of about 50km she added. Today’s efforts have been concentrated in the area of ​​the CV-195 Montan-Montanejos area, to prevent the fire from advancing towards the Serra d’Espada Natural Park.

Spectacular footage posted on the Disaster News Telegram channel showed the horrendous blaze burning. Fire chiefs are said to be carefully monitoring the situation after a change of wind saw the flames heading towards Fuente La Reina.

UPDATE: Monday, March 27 at 6:45pm

As a result of strong winds fueling the flames, three more towns have been evacuated today, Monday, March 27, as the forest fire in Castellon and Teruel advances.

The residents of Torralba del Pinar , Pavias and Higueras have been asked to leave their homes as a precaution, according to levante-emv.com . Inhabitants of Caudiel have also been confined to their homes due to the abundance of smoke produced by the blaze.

Gabriela Bravo, the Minister of Justice, explained that 80 people had evacuated from Torralba, Pavies and Figueres and confirmed that the fire had not yet reached the Serra d’Espada Natural Park. More resources have been deployed to the region as reported by the Ministry of the Environment on its Twitter account.

UPDATE: Sunday, March 26 at 5:55pm

With strong winds affecting the region of Castellón and Teruel, two more towns face evacuation this afternoon. Residents of Cirat and Torrechiva have been advised to prepare to leave their homes as the flames from the huge forest fire spread, fed by the winds, as reported by levante-emv.com .

Firefighters from the Castellon Provincial Consortium, aided by foresters from the Valencian Generalitat have been working tirelessly from the outset to extinguish this fire, that broke out last Thursday 23.

Pilar Bernabe, the Government delegate in the Valencian Community, gave an update to the press just after 1pm this afternoon, which was posted on the Emergencies 112CV Twitter profile.

An image released earlier today by the Montanejos Town Council on its Twitter page confirmed that the front of the Villanueva de Viver fire is getting ever closer to the urban area. An advisory notice was also posted online by the Council.

UPDATE: Sunday, March 26 at 4:20am

As explained by Pilar Bernabe, the Government delegate in the Valencian Community, the Guardia Civil has taken statements from four individuals in connection with the forest fire that is currently burning in Castellón and Teruel.

Speaking with the media on Saturday 25, she confirmed that the ‘human factor’ was responsible for the origin of the blaze. Apparently ‘some maintenance work’ was being carried out in the area at the time the fire broke out, although she refused to specify whether the four were municipal workers.

Bernabe insisted that the investigation was still open, and asked the public to wait ‘until all the hypotheses can be closed’, and from there, to await the conclusions of the Civil Guard, as reported by levante-emv.com .

UPDATE: Saturday, March 25 at 5:59pm

The forest fire that is currently raging in Castellon and Teruel is said to be burning out of control along a 40km perimeter. It has reportedly already devoured more than 4,000 hectares as it continues to spread. Around 1,500 residents have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution, as reported by 20minutos.es .

This information was revealed by Gabriela Bravo, the Minister of Justice and the Interior, during her press briefing late last night, Friday, March 24, held at the Advanced Command Post, in Barracas . The presidents of the Valencian and Aragonese governments, Ximo Puig and Javier Lamban, respectively, are due to visit the area today, Saturday 25.

Manuel Villanueva, the technical director of extinguishing at the Advanced Command Post confirmed that: “a medium-long term strategy is planned if the fire worsens”. He explained that: “heavy ravines are feeding the fire, which makes it difficult to deploy resources around the perimeter”.

UPDATE: Saturday, March 25 at 0:45am

The Civil Guard is said to be investigating four individuals in connection with the huge forest fire that is currently blazing in the Castellon municipality of Villanueva de Viver, according to abc.es.

The four suspects are thought to have been operating a brushcutter machine that was working on cleaning tasks in Villanueva de Viver. Sparks from the machine could have ignited the fire, according to the first investigations by the force.

In her latest press update, Gabriela Bravo, the Minister of Justice and the Interior of the autonomous administration of the Generalitat revealed that at least 4,000 hectares are estimated to have been devastated by the flames. She said that firefighters will continue to work through the night with reinforcements expected to arrive in the morning.

The Civil Guard has reported evacuating nearly 1,800 people from eight different towns in the area.

UPDATE: Friday, March 24 at 8pm

As reported this afternoon, Friday, March 24, by Gabriela Bravo, the Minister of Justice and the Interior of the autonomous administration of the Generalitat, the Villanueva de Viver forest fire continues to spread uncontrolled. It has already destroyed an estimated 3,500 hectares and currently affects a radius of 30km.

Shortly before 3pm, the Bravo indicated that there are about 500 people working, about a hundred more than there were at midday today.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, she told them: ” More than 400 professionals continue to work on #IFVillanuevaViver , which has affected more than 3,000 hectares. We are still very aware of the weather forecast that could activate the fire this afternoon. Much caution” .

Fire crews battled the huge blaze throughout the night, as can be seen in posts on social media from the various emergency services involved in the operation.

According to Emergencies 112CV this lunchtime: ” Until 12:35 pm the aerial resources of the Generalitat that work on extinction have carried out 221 downloads since they began. To these discharges must also be added those carried out by the means of @mapagob and @ GobAragon to stabilize the fire”.

UPDATE: Thursday, March 23 at 11:59pm

As reported by Emergencies 112CV this evening, Thursday 23, another two towns have been evacuated as a result of the large fire that is burning in the Castellon municipality of Villanueva de Viver.

In a tweet, it wrote: “The WFP orders the eviction of the towns of Montan and Arañuel. 2 buses are sent to Montan and 2 to Arañuel. One of the buses will distribute people from the Montan nursing home. Red Cross will set up a shelter in Onda to receive the evicted from Arañuel”.

Ximo Puig, the President of the Generalitat commented: “It was a very voracious fire at the beginning and it has had a very powerful action that has definitely meant that in a short time, we are talking about 800 to 1000 hectares of the perimeter” .

He tweeted @ximopuig : “Difficult moments. The emergency teams will continue working all night against the Alto Mijares fire. Tomorrow they will be joined by 18 aerial means. We hope that the evicted residents can return to their homes as soon as possible. The most important thing: human lives”.

Thursday, March 23 at 7:06pm

A huge forest fire that broke out in the Castellon municipality of Villanueva de Viver earlier this afternoon, Thursday, March 23, has already forced the evacuation of several towns, as reported by levante-emv.com .

The flames are said to be spreading rapidly, with firefighters from the Castellon Provincial Consortium in attendance. They have been joined by forestry personnel from the Valencian Generalitat. Due to the proximity of the flames and the virulence of the fire, the residents of several municipalities have been instructed to leave their homes as a precaution.

At around 6pm, a total of fifteen aerial means were battling the flames from above. On the ground, 10 units of the Generalitat’s forest firefighters were in action, along with nine fire engines, 3 crews from the Castello Provincial Firefighters Consortium, three forestry coordinators, three environmental agents, seven Generalitat air vehicles, and three helicopters. In addition, the UME has deployed 74 soldiers and 19 military vehicles.

According to the latest data provided by the Generalitat Valenciana, the area burned by the fire has already reached 600 hectares in just three hours.

At 6:16pm, Emergencies 112CV tweeted that a sixth town, Montanejos, had been evacuated by order of the WFP director of the Villanueva de Viver Forest Fire department.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is certainly not going to help with extinguishing the blaze. In fact, the heat and lack of humidity have triggered the risk of more forest fires in the interior of the provinces of Castellon and Valencia.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com