Heatwaves worsen forest fires in Spain

FOREST fires this year are causing more destruction than in previous years due to the extreme heat, new Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment reports seem to reveal.

The latest Ministry statistics, on the January 1 to July 26 period, place the number of hectares affected by fire in Spain at 52,557 hectares, while in 2013 and 2014 just 21,000 and 37,500 respectively were affected.

Although the number of separate fires registered is similar to averages for recent years, they have been more serious and a larger than usual portion of affected areas was hit by fires considered as large (more than 500 hectares).

Over the period studied, there have been a total of 7,750 fires, of which just seven were considered by the Ministry as large. The worst so far was registered in Aragon, affected approximately 14,000 hectares and led to evacuation of various villages.

Captain Salvador Ortega of the Guardia Civil’s Seprona nature protection branch said he believed the recent heat waves served to worsen already serious individual fires following two better than usual years.

Meanwhile, Jose Manuel Jaquolot from the Environmental Ministry stressed that although this year’s extreme heat has worsened fires once they have started, 95 per cent are believed to be sparked by human carelessness or pyromaniacs while the remaining 5 per cent are caused by lightning.

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