Palma.—The Balearic Nature Institute (Ibanat) yesterday issued a statement at 3.15pm declaring that the fire, which began in Sa Coma Caliente in the municipality of Andraitx on 26 July is finally out after having destroyed 2'335 hectares, that is the equivalent of 5769.91 acres or just over nine square miles. Obviously, the area worst hit was Sa Come Caliente where 2'140 hectares have been torched. 187.3 hectares were destroyed in Estellencs and 7.5 more in Calvia.

According to Ibanat, 86 percent of the devastation was private land although 55 percent of the total area damaged was inside the Serra de Tramuntana Natural Park which is a UNESCO natural heritage site.

During the first weekend of the fire raging through the mountains, there were scenes of panic with the authorities admitting that it was out of control.

Over 700 people, the majority from Estellencs were evacuated for the weekend as a precautionary measure as fire fighters on the ground and in the air battled to get the blaze under control.

At the peak of the operation, a total of 28 helicopters and water-carrying planes from across the country were involved in bombing the blaze while the army's special emergency brigade was deployed from its base in Valencia to provide extra support. In total, 1'000 individuals, 800 professionals and 200 volunteers, were involved in the fire fight.

On 2 August, the fires were declared under control and for the past 11 days, teams of fire fighters and planes have been dousing the hot spots to extinguish the fire which they managed to achieve yesterday.

Amazingly, no human lives or properties were lost but the extent of the damage it has done to the mountains and valleys of Andraitx is overwhelming - especially to the Sa Trapa nature reserve.

Environmental experts have stated that it will take around 80 years for the environment and the ecology to recover.
When I flew over the area some five days after the fire broke out, it was like a moonscape, nothing moved. Just isolated columns of smoke continued to burn across the mountains.

British resident Peter Bush, whose outhouse was gutted by the flames which very nearly broke through into his home along the old Estellencs road, told the Bulletin that the fire was so fierce that for days he was dousing his land because the heat had penetrated deep into the earth. Last week, with the full backing of the government a special commission Tots per sa Serra, everyone, and everything to help the Serra, was created to channel all the public and private funds and initiatives which are coming forward to help repair the damage inflicted on the area.

In the meantime, temperatures are still high and we remain on forest fire alert and the 112 emergency centre reissued its plea yesterday for anyone spotting anything suspicious to contact them immediately.


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