Four firefighters have died and two others rushed to hospital with life-threatening burns on July 21 after tackling a blaze in the north of Spain. The firefighters were caught off-guard by a sudden change in wind direction.
The men were involved in efforts to extinguish a huge wildfire which has so far burned over 800 hectares of forest in a national park near Tarragona, in Catalonia. Local officials say the firefighters appear to have been caught off-guard by a sudden change in wind direction, which stoked the blaze.
“They were prepared, capable, qualified firefighters,” head of the Catalan regional government Jose Montilla said. “A change in meteorological conditions caused them to lose their lives.”
One of the two men who survived suffered burns to 75% of his body, while the other suffered burns to 50% of his body, a local government official told news radio Cadena Ser.
A water-dropping aircraft was called in to help fight the blaze as the municipality of Horta de Sant Joan came under threat.
But Spanish fire crews were stretched across the country battling a number of blazes. A fire burning near the town of Collado Mediano, northeast of Madrid, forced the evacuation of some 2,000 people before it was brought under control.
Wildfires in the regions of Cuenca and Ciudad Real also prompted local authorities to close stretches of roads. Forecasters said the strong winds which have fanned flames were expected to ease, but scorching temperatures – as high as 41 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country – would remain for several days.
Euronews has a good 51-second video report about the incident.
Our sincere condolences go out to the families and co-workers of the firefighters.