The Jerte Valley has been fighting the flames for days since a fire broke out in the heart of the Garganta de los Infiernos. This fire joined other outbreaks in the province, which have devastated more than 6,000 hectares. The regional government believes that the fire might have been intentional.
In addition to possessing jewels of nature, considered nature reserves, the Jerte Valley is emblematic in the fruit and vegetable sector for its cherries and picotas, which have also been directly and indirectly affected by the fire. In other areas, such as the Hurdes, some plots of chestnut trees have also been burned.
"The Jerte Valley has many cherry plantations, and some of the plantations close to the fires have burned," says Miguel Angel Gomez, managing director of the Association of Fruit Growers of Extremadura, AFRUEX.
According to the representative of this association, the fires have slowed down the production and marketing activity of picota cherries, since hundreds of inhabitants of the area have had to be evacuated and others have become involved in the relief work.
Moreover, these incidents are worsening the situation of severe drought that affects the area. "The water shortage is getting worse. Large quantities of water are being used to put out the fires, which is absolutely necessary, but also worrying for those needing to irrigate their crops. We are concerned about the supply of irrigation water for the coming months," said Miguel Ángel Gómez.
There are many families who live directly from cherries and picotas in the Jerte Valley, and the companies that market the fruit are the main employers in the area. The picota campaign will end in about 3 weeks, as the peak production period has already passed. The fires are already under control, although not yet extinguished.