ACCESS to protected nature parks, mountain walking and free camping throughout the Valencia region have been banned for the duration of the severe heatwave due to hit Spain today (Thursday August 12) and predicted to last at least until Monday.

The Generalitat officially announced the drastic and unprecedented decision today in an effort to prevent a repeat of the severe forest fires that have destroyed Greece and Turkey.

Total closures will be enforced on mountain routes through the Calderona, Penyagolosa, Espada, Serra d’Irta, Turia, Mariola, Font Roja and Desert de les Palmes, among other high-risk areas.

Elsewhere, hiking, barbecues and camping are now prohibited in or near forest land, and the emergency services will perform aerial water drops to dampen the ground and step up vigilance duties by 50%.

Holidaymakers who are presently staying at rural shelters or albergues are allowed to remain there, but are forbidden to go hiking or even walking through forest areas until the emergency is lifted.

Limitations also affect chalets and urbanisations located near rural or agricultural land, where all activities involving fire or liable to cause sparks – such as barbecues, burning garden refuse or using chainsaws, among others – are now banned until further notice.

Forest Fires Rage Near Athens, Greece
Photo by Cordon Press

“This is not a good time to go to the mountain,” sentenced regional president Ximo Puig speaking at a press conference in Denia (Alicante) yesterday.

The Valencian executive’s decision to close off all protected nature parks comes one day after their Catalan counterparts took the same step in the neighbouring region.

So far this year, 108 fires have devoured 235 hectares of mountain and forest land in the Valencia region, including last weekend’s blaze in Rafelguaraf that was the worst so far, as reported by The Olive Press.

Lightning, negligence and arson are, in that order, the main caused for forest fires in the Valencia region.

For more information on the emergency measures and what to do in case of fire, visit the 112 emergency website at www.112cv.gva.es, follow the Twitter feed @GVA112, or download the app ‘GVA 112 Avisos’ from Google Play or App Store.

The public is also urged to report any suspicious behaviour or possible fires by phoning 112.

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