First major forest fire of 2023 spreads from France to Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
forest fire spread from France

On Sunday, the first major forest fire of 2023 was reported. It started in the south of France and spread to Spain later in the day. The sea of ​​flames has now destroyed more than a thousand hectares of Spanish and French territory. 

The fire started in the south of France, in a dry area between Cerbère and Banyuls-sur-Mer. Here, an area of about 950 hectares has been destroyed by the flames. On Sunday, around 300 people were evacuated in France as a precaution. 

Forest fire flames spread from France to Spain

The flames reached the border of France with Spain towards the end of the afternoon on Sunday and thus spread to Spanish territory. About 500 firefighters tried to get the fire under control and were assisted by six firefighting aircraft. However, the strong wind did not help to bring the fire under control quickly. Then, on Sunday afternoon, the Spanish mayor evacuated some residents of the mountain village as a precaution because of the persistent smoke in the area. 

The fire entered Spain via the border town of Portbou (Girona). On Sunday and in the night from Sunday to Monday, the flames also destroyed about 100 hectares of land in the Albera Massif in Portbou in Spain. The big advantage is that there are many ravines and reservoirs in this area. Therefore, the fire brigade could report early Monday morning that they had the fire under control. 

Fire still active and some roads and railway closed 

Although the fire is under control, various fire departments have not yet succeeded in completely extinguishing the flames. The persistent strong gusts of wind make it difficult to extinguish the fire in its entirety. 

The fire is currently still active and the N-260 through Portbou on Spanish territory and the D-914 on the French side, between Cervera and Banyuls, are still closed to traffic. The Catalan railway service also reports that the R11 line will not go beyond Portbou due to the flames coming quite close to the track in a southerly direction. 

Catalan fire brigade also fire Lleida under control 

In addition to the fire in Portbou, the Catalan fire brigade also brought another fire, between Lleida and Zaragoza, under control this morning. In the meantime, 458 hectares of land have been destroyed, mainly forest and agricultural land. This fire started on Saturday. 

Also read: Early forest fires more frequent due to climate change

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