Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Fire strikes close to home
Over the past two days a series of forest fires raced through a huge swathe of the Alt Emporda, and are only now being brought under control. On Sunday afternoon we went to the beach, completely unaware of the drama unfolding less than twenty kilometres away. The same wind that was whipping up waves for us to play in was also helping to spread dozens of fires, destroying thousands of acres of woodland and agricultural land, injuring many people and killing at least four.
On Monday morning as we drank our coffee our server Carlos pointed to the news on the television behind us. It appears a discarded cigarette started the first fire near the border town of Porthuis. From there, high winds spread the flames to Portbou, La Jonquera, Capmany, Cantallops and numerous other locations extending south on either side of the A7 autoroute. Roads were closed and people warned to stay indoors. From our patio we could look in one direction and see all the usual activity on the beach, but turning our heads just a little we could see a dirty brown cloud drifting along behind the ridge line.
We returned home to find the skies above our village returning to the serene blue we are used to. But we look at the wooded hillsides that surround us with new eyes now. It has been a huge wakeup call. Having a proper emergency preparedness plan of our own now seems like a very good idea.