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Coruxo open up stadium for people seeking shelter from Galicia fires

Galicia in northern Spain has been ravaged by fires in recent days.

Spanish third division team Coruxo FC have been forced to train away from their complex this week because of the damage caused by the fires that have ravaged parts of Galicia in northern Spain, while they have offered their stadium to those seeking shelter.

The club based in the province of Vigo opened their 1,500 capacity O Vao Stadium on Sunday evening to people seeking shelter from the 105 fires that have claimed the lives of three people.

Coruxo had played a home league game against Guijuelo just hours earlier before thousands of people were evacuated from their homes as fires began to burn buildings across Vigo and the town of Coruxo, which is 12.5 kilometres away.

"We took the decision immediately after our league game as we saw what the situation was," Coruxo president Gustavo Falque told ESPN FC on Monday morning. "Buildings were evacuated in the surrounding areas of the stadium and we decided to leave the doors open so that hundreds of people could take shelter.

"We stayed here until 3:45 a.m. this morning, once the police allowed people to return to their homes. Many people opened their houses to their neighbours whose homes were affected."

Falque said there was no hesitation from the club to offer help.

"The despair was great," he said. "One can only imagine the heartbreak of losing your home, your livestock, your animals... It's terrible. I'm from the Coruxo area and I haven't experienced anything of this magnitude before in my life. We did have a fire back in 1974 that affected Vigo but nothing like this."

Coruxo players assisted those in need.

"Some players decided to stay in the stadium and help while others that had left at 7 p.m. came back after collecting water, milk and other essentials to give to those that were most affected," Falque said. "Yesterday we saw the people of Coruxo and surrounding areas risking their lives in order to battle the flames so that they wouldn't reach the houses. This just goes to show the value of our society."

As for Coruxo's Fragoselo sporting complex, there was damage but, according to Falque, it could have been worse.

"The entire surrounding area of our sporting ground is burned down," Falque said. "The grass from the football pitch has escaped damage and so has the changing room area, where the fire went above it but it did not burn it.

"For the time being, we cannot train there as the power lines have all burned down. We have no electricity. The team will train in the Vao Stadium this morning. We have received calls from many clubs from our region being at our disposal if we need anything, a place to train, and we thank them.

"The situation is calmer now. We've got some small fires that are almost under control. We are looking at the damage now as there were areas that we couldn't get into last night. We will see where we are in a week's time."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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