The fire in the Vall dÉbo – How did it happen?

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RESIDENTS took to the streets in masks to survive the thick smoke: Picture Frank Goodall

THE fire in La Vall Ebo calcined hundreds of acres and wrought havoc on dozens of home owners, affecting the towns of Pego and l’Atzubia, with at least 50 residences evacuated as residents took to the streets in masks to avoid choking on the smoke.
The fire began when an elderly resident allegedly set a fire to burn some scrub in one of his fields. Rafael Jorda, a former teacher and family man, is over 80. A serving magistrate with only six months until his retirement, he possessed a permit to light fires on his land – not, however, in the conditions that existed on Thursday May 14.
High winds caught the flames, sweeping the fire into a neighbouring field full of dry reeds, quickly escalating out of control. In his efforts to put out the fire, Jorda sustained serious burns and was assisted by two passers-by who helped get him to safety. He was later transferred to Denia Hospital.
Jorda has been charged with arson but it is unlikely he will be expected to appear in court until he has recovered from his injuries.
The Justice Ministry has extended the period of prohibition of fires in order to prevent further disaster. It is now illegal to set a fire of any kind from May 18 until further notice, as published in the Official Journal of the Valencia DOCV.
The flames destroyed at least one house with others seriously smoke damaged and over the town of Pego there is a pall of smoke. Showers of smoke and ash coupled with the intense heat of more than 40 degrees on Thursday night and Friday morning made the air foul and unbreathable.
Fire fighters risked their own safety in their brave fight to bring the fire under control, assisted by air assets that continued their runs again and again despite the danger of flying into clouds of thick smoke.
The residents of every town and village involved in the disaster have sent tearful messages of gratitude and thanks to the emergency services involved via The Euro Weekly News, with the same hope in their hearts: that it must not be allowed to happen again.




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