By Chris King •
Updated: 15 Aug 2023 • 21:43
Image of the fire in Casella, Valencia.
Credit: Twitter Avamet/Julio Garcia Pons from Sumacàrcer
AT least eight out of every ten forest fires declared in the Ribera region of the Valencian Community in the first half of 2023 were either started deliberately or by negligence.
According to statistics from the Generalitat Fire Prevention Service, between January and June, a total of 39 forest fires or attempts were dealt with. Except for four of these, due to the rapid intervention of the firefighting services, the area affected did not exceed one hectare.
More than half of these fires (56.4 per cent) were considered to have been intentional, while another 25.6 per cent of the cases were attributed to negligence, as reported by levante-emv.com.
In the remaining 18 per cent, the cause has not been determined and appears in the statement as ‘under investigation’. There is no evidence that any of these fires were caused naturally by lightning. In absolute numbers, there were 22 arson attacks, with 10 due to negligence, and another seven for which there was no specific cause established.
It so happens that the two most serious fires recorded so far this year in the region were started by negligence, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice and Interior.
On April 14, a fire was declared in the Casella de Alzira valley, which affected an area of 21.6 hectares. At one point it threatened to develop into a serious blaze, looking like it would spread into the Murta.
Thankfully, a large deployment of aerial resources allowed the flames to be contained in very adverse environmental conditions.
Another fire broke out one month later in the Barranc del Bonico de Alfarp, which affected a total of 21.32 hectares. Residents of the Font de l’Almaguer urbanisation had to be evacuated from their homes during this incident, and also in the Murta valley in the previous case.
The statistics revealed that the vast majority of the fires recorded started in riverbeds and ravines. In particular, they broke out in the bed of the Magro River, where the action of a suspected arsonist in the surroundings of the Marquesat caused a succession of attempts during the spring months.
In fact, 38 per cent of the fires that the Generalitat registered in the Ribera in this period were located at different points of the Magro.
April and May were the months that registered the greatest number of incidents. Between the two, they added up to almost 54 per cent of all fires, and also the most serious.
The other two largest fires by area that affected the region after those in Alzira and Font de l’Almaguer occurred in April in Catadau and Alfarp, both in El Magro, with 11 and 7.5 hectares affected, respectively.
No fires were registered by the Ministry in February, which was a month that in the Ribera was between humid and very humid due to the rain records.
Only three occurred in the month of June, two of them on consecutive days in the channel of the Magro in Carlet, next to the sports centre, which were controlled quickly.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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