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With record-breaking forest fire activity in Europe this year, citizens in and around Portbou, a coastal town near the France-Spanish border, were prompted to evacuate as a wildfire spread on August 5th, 2023. Firefighters from the Spanish region of Catalonia and French colleagues fought to contain the blaze, which burned 435 hectares of land with an estimated 2,500 under threat.
135 people were evacuated overnight from local villages as a precaution and several more confined to campsites or their own homes. This evacuation was made more difficult due to strong winds which also prevented water-bombing airplane assistance, making the terrain a complication for the firefighting operation.
Catalan forest rangers have begun an investigation into the cause of the fire, which is expected to be further mitigated as air operations finally commence this afternoon with helicopter reconnaissance beforehand. Amidst firefighting efforts, Catalan Red Cross volunteers provided assistance to the rescue operation.
Last year, some 500 fires in Spain laid waste to more than 300,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (Effis). This year, 70,000 hectares have been affected.
We hope that the Portbou firefighting efforts are successful in containing the blaze and that with the assistance of the national and international parties involved, the citizens of Portbou can rest assured that their safety is a priority