The lava crosses an industrial estate: “They are all businesses of people from here who may be left with nothing”

Abián Acosta barely had time to take a forklift from the warehouse that the avocado packer Agro Rincón had just opened in the small industrial estate of El Callejón de la Gata, in Los Llanos de Aridane, a town of about 20.170 population. It was last Saturday, hours before the northern part of the cone of the La Palma volcano gave way to the pressure of the lava and began to pour millions of cubic meters of laundry at more than 1. 200 degree temperature. He was speeding up the slope. “There was no way that the Civil Guard would let me in,” explains the manager. “We had spent 80. 000 euros does nothing in the ship, I do not know how the warehouse will be now. But two days ago the lava was on the doorstep. ”

The passage of the volcano through this small industrial center of Los Llanos de Aridane has reached a cement factory, causing a fire that has caused a striking column of gases “that were initially estimated as possibly toxic”, as explained by the spokesman for the steering committee of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende.

The column of smoke that has generated The cement factory fire, sometimes a radiant white and other times a disturbing dark gray, has once again provoked the glances of hundreds of curious people who had almost become accustomed to the terrible, but shocking, picture that the Cabeza volcano offers of Vaca. Faced with this new event, the crisis committee decreed on Monday morning the confinement of several towns in El Paso and Los Llanos, where approximately 3 500 people reside. The measure is maintained until the degree of cloud risk and air quality can be determined. “Yes, I am confined, but I have to do the shopping,” Francisco Rodríguez, a resident of Tajuya, said on Monday afternoon, at the entrance to the Spar supermarket chain.

Like him, many neighbors seemed to ignore the directions of the authorities. And that, despite the fact that since Monday morning, Civil Guard SUVs circulate through the confined towns warning through the public address system of the need to stay at home, close doors, windows and any air intake from outside.

The car, the Pevolca also warns, “is not a safe place.” It’s the same. Traffic is incessant on LP 2, one of the main arteries of La Palma. And the curious are not intimidated either. “Well, if the Civil Guard kicks me out, I’ll go, but in the meantime, I’ll take photos,” explains smiling Sara, an amateur photographer from Tenerife who shoots her camera incessantly at the Tajuya viewpoint.

Small industrial center

El Callejón de la Gata was home to a dozen small companies. In addition to Agro Rincón, exclusive distributor of avocados for Mercadona, there was, among others, the cement company where the fire occurred, a furniture company (“its owner is a relative of my wife and it has been completely destroyed,” explains Abián Acosta), the home to a fleet of trucks and the local clean-up point, which is also in danger. “They are all businesses of people from here who may be left with nothing.”

This business enclave has been the latest victim of the fierceness of the volcano, which until now had been primed with homes and farms of banana trees and vineyards, fundamentally. The collapse of the cone in the early hours of Saturday reactivated a destruction that had come to a standstill, in a kind of “stability”, according to the definition of Pevolca.

Thus, the affected area on the island has reached this Monday the 591, 1 hectares, 65, 29 more than Sunday, one of the largest daily increases since the eruption began last 19 of September. According to the cadastre data, buildings have already fallen 753 in their wake. Most of them are houses (620). Others 70 are implement rooms and 29 they had industrial use. In addition, 150 hectares of crops have been affected: 74, 82 of banana trees, 45, 16 of vineyards and 8, 78 of avocado trees.

Many of these companies have insurance. And the Administrations are already accelerating payments. As of October 7, the Insurance Compensation Consortium, dependent on the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, had paid 3.7 million to different policyholders affected by the eruption. This money, however, does not reassure Abián Acosta. Nor probably his old neighbors in the Callejón de La Gata. “We were insured, yes. And that? Where do we go now?”.

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