The Civil Guard, so far this year, has detained and investigated more than 300 people for the alleged commission of forest fires, of which more than 400 have been considered as forest fire crimes and about 2,300 as infractions related to the use of fire. Although the number of claims has suffered a notable decrease compared to the average of the last 10 years, it should be noted that large fires have increased in the last year by 25% compared to 2020 and they are more dangerous.
Wildfire violence makes 2021 one of the most destructive years of the decade
For yet another year, it has become clear that the majority of forest fires, about 80%, are linked to the human factor, either due to the work of an arsonist, negligence in the use of fire, or recklessness in times of risk. Among the most common causes are bonfires, agricultural burns, livestock interests and conflicts, and poor power lines.
Andalusia is the autonomous community that has registered the most forest fires, followed by Castilla y León and Cantabria. Do not forget that fires can occur at any time of the year. This is the case of Cantabria and Asturias, whose fires are mainly concentrated in winter and spring.
The origin of much of the area burned in the large forest fires that have occurred this year has been caused by vehicles. The Civil Guard works to fight against the lack of diligence in the maintenance of vehicles or negligence in driving as a way to prevent catastrophes such as those that occurred this year.
New research tools
The Civil Guard uses for the investigation of forest fires the COPERNICUS program of the European Union, which through satellites and measurement systems on land, sea and air, allows agents to know the progress of the fire instantly, as well as to know the affection to the environment and clarify authorship.
The police and criminal investigation, as well as the demand for the responsibility of the perpetrators, responding in many cases with their own assets for the damage caused to the environment, constitute one of the most effective measures for its prevention, since it generates a dissuasive effect on the arsonist and the negligent conduct of the rest of the citizens.
In collaboration with the Public Prosecutor for the Environment and Urban Planning, a profile of the arsonist has been developed, based on multiple investigations and studies. This project helps to understand the behavior of people who start fires and allows the Civil Guard to anticipate these people’s footsteps.
Relevant fires of 2021
Caused by the combustion of a vehicle on the road. Has caused the biggest forest fire so far this year, burning more than 22,000 hectares.
Sierra Bermeja (Malaga)
This fire affected protected areas and during the extinction tasks, in which a forest firefighter died, more than a thousand people were evacuated. The investigation, which is still open, is being carried out by the Malaga SEPRONA Team.
San Roque (Cádiz)
One person was arrested for arson in a natural setting to distract the Security Forces and Bodies and introduce drugs on the coast aboard a narco boat from the African coast, which has been placed in provisional prison. It was discovered that several arson fires this year with the same characteristics in the area had been started by the detainee. He has been charged with 8 crimes of forest fire.
Officers detained two people for a fire that caused the burning of 870 hectares. The Civil Guard investigation and citizen collaboration were key to locating the origin of the fire, the lack of maintenance of a truck.
Arrest of a person who used surgical masks to conceal the device with which the fire started and which cost the burning of numerous hectares in the natural setting of the Sierra de Tramontana.
San Juan reservoir (Madrid)
The Civil Guard detained a person like Author of the fire that affected a wooded area of the San Juan Swamp. He is charged with a crime of gross negligence. The virulence of the fire forced a road to be cut and many nearby urbanizations to be vacated.
Fires contribute to climate change
As it is concluded from the numerous recent scientific evidences, with the data provided by the United Nations Conference on Climate Change COP26, deforestation is one of the main causes of global warming.
Wildfires have a devastating impact. One of the most visible consequences is the destruction of the ecosystem and the landscape. They cause the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of soils and habitats, accelerating the planet’s desertification processes. They release significant amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, as well as other gases and particles, which favors the greenhouse effect and climate change.
The Civil Guard fights against these consequences and has allocated up to 100,000 services this last year to the prevention, investigation, training and dissemination of forest fires.