Last week I planned a trip into Asturias region of Spain. (future articles coming) The reason behind it was for even more time I wanted to see the rock arches at Praia das Catedrais. And also I had 4 days free of work. I will skip the details for now, since I will tell them at another time.
At the 12th of October, in the morning, I started to pack the last things necessary for the trip, check the batteries of the camera, check that I have all my reservations and when I went to put the stuff in the car, I smelled fire. (this was in Baiona). But since in Portugal things were very bad and from time to time it smells like fire anyway, I did not alert too much. I took my laptop and all my gear in the car, so that I have them safe, just in case.
After 500km I arrived at the border of Asturias, passed the night close to Cangas de Onis and stood in many places after that, for a total of 4 days (articles will be posted soon). On the last day, the 15th of October I hit the road back “home”, to Baiona passing by Praia das Catedrais as planned.
From there we went close to A Coruna and Santiago de Compostela by the highway, to avoid agglomeration. By now something was already starting to be weird. From 4 a clock the sky was more and more yellow, casting a warm light, typical to sundown light. As we were closer to Santiago, it was looking like the sun was about to set sooner than normally…
Close to Pontevedra there was smoke in the air, and just like seen in the images, the light was dimmed a lot and had a yellow, orange tint.
Closing in to Vigo, the Redondela region was already on fire. I made a few pictures but I was shaking my camera too much (I wasn’t the driver, and the fire was not visible from my side).
My hands froze on the camera and my eyes remained open like after 15 coffees 😧. I was constantly cursing and making pictures more like a robot… hoping that home, none of this was happening.
Few days ago I took my gear and laptop just to be safe, but I never thought that fire that was in Portugal, could come, not here where usually it rains. But for 2 months it did not rain… nor it was too hot. (in Romania it can get really hot). I knew that in Portugal there are maniacs who for some reason, like to destroy the planet. 🌎 But here in Galicia? In Vigo? How could something so green, be on fire??
The smoke was casting a near perfect orange light over the Ria de Vigo bay and many people were driving slow, probably they were also watching in horror. (Next day, a colleague told me at work, that in his 30+ years, he “never saw fire in this region! Not even close to a quarter of this magnitude. Of course some people burn their lands, in agricultural purpose… but forest?! 🌳 It is true that in Portugal every year, there is fire in the forests. But here… in Vigo, never 😔”).
Yes, the big yellow, smoke was coming from behind the hills of Vigo and it seemed that it was driven north (just like the direction of the cyclone).
A message popped on the dashboard of the car -> it was asking us to take another route, that is 10 min faster. We accepted but…
Moments after that, we were in the yellow smoke, driving carefully and hoping that in Baiona everything was fine.
In fact the smoke was clearing out.
We drove outside the highway, closer to the shore.
We saw that also Nigran was in fire, but the horror was when I saw that at Baiona, the fire was exactly were the house of my friends is. In fact from the picture bellow, the house discovered by smoke.
Thick fire was rising from meters away from the houses…
I went inside the house fast, got a bucket, started pouring water on the dry plants on the terrace, mine and at the missing neighbors, on the cars. Then grabbed my camera to immortalize the moment in which the fireman plane takes off to drop the water on the fire at Nigran. Went back to put water next to the door, in case I will need it at some point.
And while I was pouring water on all the foliage next to the house (for a second time), I saw that the fire at Nigran was getting bigger and bigger and also coming down from the top of the mountain towards the town. Two planes were seen in the area.
I entered in the house, I’ve put all my clothes in a baggage and turned off all the lights in the house (panel), unplugged everything and closed all the windows. Now I heard the plane just above the house. I rushed outside and saw that the fire at Nigran was getting bigger and bigger, but also that the smoke behind the house was also growing in size.
A second plane, or maybe the same one… came from behind, pouring water as it was flying through.
Seeing how fast the fire was growing, I told my friends that we should at least get down towards the beach, next to the water and think if we stay here or if we go to Vigo at another friend. So we closed the door, put everything in the cars and…
Moments later (like not even 10 minutes), the fire was already close to the entry of the house. All I know, is that we got in the car and drove down to towards the beach.
From the bay area, it was visible the fire at Nigran. It was coming down from the mountain, approaching the habited area. The smoke from Baiona was coming from the direction of the Fortress, the one at Nigran was also coming towards us…
We went back in the car, and drove to Vigo.
There, things were worst. It was very dark, the air was not breathable due to smoke, many cars on the road and so on.
We found a parking place near the Plaza de Espana (where is the fountain with the horses) and went after that to our friend. After eating and discussing, I saw the air was getting a bit less heavy, so I went out to get clothes from the car, to spend the night at my friend’s apartment.
Then I smelled gunpowder, like the ones in the fireworks. We decided to move the car to a safer place, but just then I kid started to yell that there was fire in someones garden. I personally did not see it (the house was at 40, 50 meters from me). Then another kid came and started whistling after the police and beating at the gate so that the people inside the house come out. A woman indeed came out and watched on her right side, while talking on the phone. Then in no time, more came there and so the fire started.
This house is in central area of Vigo, kilometers from the fire… but inside the smoke area. I saw dead, and very dry leaves on the roads stacked in piles, in the parking place at Al Campo, near the hospital close to Plaza de Espana and other open spaces had these leaves. The only place that was on fire… was something that looked abandoned, and where no people were passing. Interesting how old leaves did not catch on fire, but another green tree did.