Palma.—With nearly 5'000 acres of land, much of that in the Serra de Tramuntana UNESCO natural heritage site, the blaze which has ripped through the North West of the island since it started in Andraitx on Friday has been described as an ecological and environmental nightmare and that it is going to take an estimated 80 years for the areas hit by the fire to return to normal. Livestock and wild animals have been lost and yesterday, all 29 of the planes which were picking up water all along the West coast from Palma to Peguera, were targeting the Galatzo estate which is famous for its animals and flora and fauna.

On Sunday night, a special unit stood by in case the animals needed to be evacuated from the reserve, but in the end, that was not necessary.
Elsewhere, the 400 fire fighters tackling the blaze on the ground were making sure that the other flanks of the fire were under control.
Early yesterday afternoon, the head of the government's emergency centre, Miguel Angel Andreu, said that they were “more or less under control” and that all the emphasis was on saving as much of the Galatzo nature reserve as possible. “But, with Galatzo very difficult to access on the ground, we've having to do it all from the air and we can not afford to let our guard down at all until we know for sure all of the fronts are out,” he said.

Balearic President, Jose Ramon Bauza yesterday confirmed that 1'800 hectares, most of them of either pine forest or low-lying woodland, have been damaged by the flames.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, over 700 residents and tourists were evacuated from the villages of Es Grau, Ses Tanquetes and Estellencs as a precautionary measure.

Estellencs was the worst affected of the three villages and only residents were allowed to begin returning home at 6pm, last night.
One of the main reasons for the continued progress of the flames is that the arrival of nightfall meant that the aerial units were no longer able to continue operating, while the continued wind also complicated matters for those fighting the flames.

The Ministry of Defense has dispatched a total of 186 personnel, 40 vehicles and 4 helicopters to Majorca since the fire, which is now the worst suffered on the island since 1999, began. This blaze comes 19 years after another fire in the area destroyed 1'300 hectares and the Guardia Civil are investigating a number of leads into the cause of the fire.

A German resident was arrested on Friday, but has denied causing the fires and apparently, a Majorcan family was under suspicion yesterday.
Forest fires are a continuous problem in Spain and every year sees thousands of hectares of land destroyed by forest fires, the majority of which are caused by accidents, although some are deliberately provoked.

A wet spring followed by a hot July this year has provoked ideal conditions for the rapid spread of flames given that many wooded areas are now filled with abundant dry undergrowth, while in some areas local government cutbacks have meant less money has been spent on clearing away this growth.

Yesterday, the Balearic government categorically denied that its forest fire plan is floored and that any cut backs have been made. “This is the largest fire fight the Balearics have ever witnessed and everything has been done to battle the blaze,” government sources said.
The Socialists said that this is no time for bickering but for solidarity with the victims and the fire fighters. Andraitx.—From an isolated outbreak of fire above Andraitx to a major civil emergency, this has been the story of the worst and largest blaze on Majorca in at least two decades.

As the blaze has roared it's way west past the villages of S'Arraco, Estellencs and Banyalbufar, then surged inland to the communities of Puigpunyent and Galatzo... islanders have been horrified by what they have witnessed.

The smell of smoke drifting on strong winds could be detected all the along the south-west tourist resorts of Peguera, Santa Ponsa and Magalluf and residents as far away as Palma itself could see the massive clouds of smoke.

After almost four days of worry we are still not sure not if the fires have been finally defeated.

Hundreds Hundreds of fire-fighters, the military, the police, and other local emergency services have been battling non- stop desperately trying to initially contain and ultimately to put out the fires.

I have over the past few days been filing reports for the Majorca Daily Bulletin and at the same time “posting” reports on Facebook from the Sa Coma valley above Andraitx Town where I live.

With an incredibly fast-moving story such as this one, it is impossible for a daily newspaper to keep up with events so I have been fascinated by the impact of Facebook and Twitter when reporting this huge blaze. Certainly, it has been my experience that users of these social networking sites have been highly responsible in their comments and opinions. Indeed, it is as if scores of “citizen” journalists are out their reporting on what is happening.

However, I like many other islanders was evacuated to a safer place on Friday night, so I do understand the trauma and stress that people are , and continue to be under. Fire is an elemental force and when it is beyond our collective control, it has the potential to terrify and reduce the strongest of personalities to tears. But the human spirit of kindness and sympathy has never been far away from this crisis. I have lost count the number of “posts” on social media that have offered their homes as refuge for those effected by the fires.

The British ex-pat community on the island has proved once again that it has a big heart and is hugely practical and resourceful. Yesterday afternoon fire-fighters confronted the monstrous blaze at the Galatzo estate; we should all pray that these extraordinarily brave men and women hold the “line” on our behalf. We should also remember that the fire has hurtled up the west coast and again fire-fighters are holding their ground south of Valldemossa to stop it reaching further along the Tramantauna Mountains. I realise that when you read this, things could be very different indeed…either way! For those of you who have been personally affected by the fire, I know how you feel……jumpy, stressed, listless and just about “hanging-in-there,” believe me you are not alone.

When these crises pass; and believe me they will...many of us will feel a little more humble in regards to mother nature and what she can do, and perhaps, what really matters in life.


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