Local Firefighting heroes

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rhona bomberos femalefocusonline june24by Rhona Wells

Summer approaches and with it, the ever-present threat of outbreaks of fire. Unfortunately, we have already had isolated outbreaks around our area. The earth is parched and prone to every spark and discarded cigarette end.

Smoke was reported in the late morning of Saturday 13th April in the area of Camí Vell de Gata – Barranc de l’Hedra on the border between the municipalities of Xàbia and Gata de Gorgos. Fire-fighting units, including air assets, were quickly deployed.
The intensity of the fire, which was burning on two different fronts, forced the closure of several roads while overhead, at least three helicopters and two planes were depositing water and red fire suppressant on the flames below.
By late afternoon, the fire had reached the area of La Rana de Gata de Gorgos, pushed by winds and encouraged by the high temperatures making it difficult to control and extinguish the flames. However, thanks to gargantuan efforts, the spread was halted and, although the land remains burned, blackened and scarred, nobody was injured and thankfully, our local very ancient olive tree survived.
Generally, the Costa Blanca area is kept safe by the dedication of an army of firefighter volunteers. Yes, all the people who work so hard, fighting to keep the area safe from fire are unpaid volunteers.
In the past, this selfless, dedicated band of heroes Xàbia has faced many large fires. In 2016, a huge blaze near Xàbia led to the destruction of more than 20 homes, displacing around 2000 people. This fire ravaged more than 800 hectares and destroyed more than 20 homes between Xàbia and Granadella.
In recognition of the work of these brave volunteers, (Voluntarios in Spanish or firefighters in English), local charities in the area contribute to their funding.
Towards the end of last year, the local charity Todos Juntos Xàbia donated around two and a half thousand euro to this worthy and essential cause. The funding was used to upgrade the existing firefighting trucks and to buy new equipment. Only months later in, we were seeing the fruits of that generosity in action, as the Voluntarios fought to contain the blaze around Xàbia and Gata de Gorgos just a few weeks ago.
The Secretary of Todos Juntos Xàbia, Marion Kenworthy explained: “Having seen first hand the devastation caused by the fires of 2016, Todos Juntas Xàbia decided to donate some of our funds to update the equipment essential to the work of the Voluntarios who work so selflessly to keep us safe. Of course, we didn’t expect to see them in action quite so soon. However, I think I speak for everyone when I say how much we rely on, and appreciate, the amazing team of Voluntarios at Balcon al Mar and we are thankful to our many members and friends who enabled us to contribute to such an important cause.”
Planning ahead for summer, a giant inflatable platform with space for up to 600 people is to be set up in Xàbia’s Granadella Bay to provide a safe space for the evacuation of residents in the event of another massive forest fire like that 2016.
However, the most important protection for the safety of the land is our vigilance. Carelessness has traditionally been the major cause of these devastating fires which can spread at a terrifying speed.
Let’s hope for a safe and fire free summer.