[WATCH] Miżieb fire aftermath reveals scorched woodland

Vast area of Miżieb woodland left charred by blaze which took firefighters and volunteers a day to extinguish

The fire spread over 50,000 sq.m. of land, hunting federation FKNK estimates (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The fire spread over 50,000 sq.m. of land, hunting federation FKNK estimates (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

A large area of Miżieb has been left charred in the wake of a blaze which ripped through the woodland on Saturday.

MaltaToday walked through the area on Monday and vast sections of the woodland appear charred, and the smell of smoke and burnt wood filled the air.

The fire started early on Saturday, with Civil Protection Department firefighters quickly arriving on the scene and engaging in an intense effort to battle the flames. It took until Sunday morning before the blaze - likely one of the largest in recent years in Malta - was brought under control.

Seven fire engines and six private water bowsers were used, with the firefighters also joined by a number of volunteers, including those from the St John Ambulance.

Lino Farrugia, CEO of hunting federation FKNK - which has managed the woodland since 1986 - told MaltaToday that the fire spread across an estimated 50,000 sq.m of land.

He said that pine trees affected by the fire were completely destroyed, because the sap which comes out of such trees burns easily and helped the flames consume them. However, he expressed his hopes that other types of trees in the area, although charred, could possibly be saved.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Despite a sign prohibiting barbecues, the remnants of them could be seen on the ground (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Despite a sign prohibiting barbecues, the remnants of them could be seen on the ground (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

What mitigated the situation, Farrugia said, was that a clean-up of dry vegetation on the ground had been taking place over the past month. A clean-up took place in the hours before the fire, going some way in limiting its spread.

However, a proper assessment of the damage is still to be undertaken hand-in-hand with the Environment and Resources Authority, Farrugia said. He said the organisation had received offers of help to replace the destroyed trees from other organisations and individuals.

Asked whether the clean-up by FKNK volunteers on the day involved the burning of the dry vegetation on site, Farrugia said this was not the case.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The cause of the fire is not yet known but Farrugia said FKNK suspected arson might have been involved, and the organisation has filed a police report in this regard.

Signs placed outside the entrance to Miżieb prohibit barbecues in the area, but, despite this, several remnants of them were clearly visible as we walked around the woodland. Farrugia told MaltaToday that on Sunday, volunteers found waste strewn around some parts of the site.

"There are vandals who simply keep littering the place," Farrugia said.

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