IN a dramatic turn of events, the forest fire that has been blazing near Granada since Thursday 8 September jumped to a new location, above the village of Ízbor, where it quickly developed a large perimeter area in barely accessible ravines. Ízbor and Acebuches residents have been officially confined, while some have evacuated their homes, and are being offered shelter by their town halls, as well as by nearby Lanjaron town hall.
Guardia Civil closed the N332 road between GR-3204 from kilometers 10 to 24 in both directions, as well as the N-323 between the municipalities of Ízbor and Vélez de Benaudalla, from kilometers 165 to 178.
The blaze was previously burning close to the towns of Guajar-Alto, Albuñuelas and Pinos del Valle, where, in these locations, it has now been extinguished, leaving behind blackened terrain. Although Infoca was cautiously optimistic that the fire was almost under control yesterday, this now looks increasingly unlikely, with the scale of the fresh blaze taking residents and onlookers by surprise.
As the Olive Press reporter returned from the Infoca control centre at Albuñuelas yesterday evening, flames flared to life on the mountain above Ízbor. With a slight breeze blowing, these quickly consumed olive groves and densely forested areas, sending noxious smoke and falling ash over nearby towns. The situation rapidly worsened when the firefighting helicopters – which had been active all day – were retired for the night at 8pm.
As the fire increased in intensity, hoards of spectators gathered in local viewpoints, including near Beznar and the road towards Lanjaron. “It’s beautiful but terrifying,” said a Spanish lady at Beznar, who was taking photos for her personal blog.
At the Beznar lake, the Adventura Alpujarra active sports company had been told to close their water sports for the day, because of the risk to clients from firefighting helicopters scooping water.
Sergio Arjona, deputy minister of environment for the Junta de Andalucia, based at the Albuñuelas control centre, told the Olive Press, shortly before the blaze flared out of control again: “We know exactly where the fire began. It is possible that a person started it with a cigarette or something similar. We do know it was not of natural causes, such as a storm.” He dismissed Granada-based rumours that it was started deliberately for corporate interest, calling this “speculation”.
He added: “Right now, the fire is level 0, but the fire technician will come and see if we should raise it to level 1, which is when there’s a risk to the population.”
Just before 9pm, the Junta raised the level to 1.
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