CATALONIA / Girona (Agencies) A fire that is reported as having started three days ago thanks to some idiot throwing a lit cigarette butt in a parking lot, spread alarmingly because of high winds in the AltaAmpurdá area of the province of Girona. Although there was a break in the wind yesterday morning, it came up again in the afternoon, but overnight work by the fire brigades and areal units finally brought it under control by early this morning. The father and daughter>>>of a French family died when their car dropped down a cliff while they were trying to escape from the flames, the mother and another daughter are in hospital in serious condition. Another man, 64, died of a heart attack and another of breathing problems resulting from smoke inhalation.
Drivers using the roads to and from the busy frontier post were trapped when the flames swung round, leving them with nowhere to go. Several towns and villages in the area helped these trapped travellers to settle for the night, while firefighters battled the flames in an unequal conflict.
For comparison, the largest private estate on continental Europe (until a few years ago), La Almoraima near Castellar de la Frontera in the Campo de Gibraltar, was only 2,000 hectares larger than the area the fire in the North has impacted. An area of specially protected forest near Figueras was also being threatened by the flames last night but there are no reports of damage there this morning.
The authorities are intent on finding the culprit/s who started the fire that, by all expert reports will not be fully extinguished until Friday at the earliest.
The Guardia Civil Traffic advises anyone driving to France to use a different route to get to the border, as there will still be much activity on the roads thereabouts.