Firefighters on Friday were still battling to bring under control a ferocious forest fire, which has already destroyed almost the entire Monte Pindo protected nature reserve in A Coruña, and scorched terrain belonging to many nearby towns.
By Friday morning the blaze had crossed the River Xallas and entered the neighboring municipality of Dumbría, where it was threatening the area around the Ézaro waterfall, the only one in Europe that falls directly into the sea.
The fire, which broke out on Wednesday evening, continued threatening to reignite in O Pindo, where more than 1,600 hectares have been devastated, according to official figures released Thursday by the Galician rural environment department. The mayor of Carnota, the municipality within which O Pindo lies, called an emergency meeting on Friday to declare the area a disaster zone. Mayor Ramón Noceda also urged locals not to switch on the electricity due to the risk of accidents caused by burnt power lines.
Other large wildfires in Galicia also remained active and threatened homes on Friday, in areas such as Porto do Son and Negreira, both of which are in A Coruña. Another blaze in A Fonsagrada, in Lugo, which has destroyed 500 hectares, was brought under control on Thursday.
The Monte Pindo association, which is campaigning for the area to receive official Natural Park status, has branded the fire a “genuine attack” with “savage consequences.”
The group on Thursday called for a demonstration to draw attention to this and other wildfires in the region, which it considers were deliberate and preventable. It asked for political accountability and demanded the resignation of the regional rural environment chief, Rosa Quintana, and environment department head Agustín Hernández.
The fact that the fire broke out in such a hard-to-reach area, and was fanned by strong northeasterly winds, proves, said the group’s secretary Mario Maceiras, not only that it was intentional but also that this was an “ecological attack” with the aim of destroying the spot, which is protected under the European Natura 2000 network and contains species that cannot be found elsewhere.
The secretary general of the regional rural environment department, Tomás Fernández-Couto, highlighted the “deadly nature” of the blaze, given the “extraordinary wind conditions” at the time it started, making it “absolutely impossible” to extinguish in the short term.
Eight of the 12 major fires (covering more than 500 hectares) to have broken out this year have affected areas protected by the Natura 2000 network, which groups together the richest natural spaces in the European Union.