“It is one of the great risks of geographical areas such as the one in which Spain is located. They cannot be reduced to zero, but they can limit risks and damages”. This is how the vice president of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, has defined forest fires. The Executive has approved a decree so that the fire plans of the autonomous communities cover the entire year and are not limited to the months of greatest risk.
The worst year in burned area in almost three decades: this is how active fires evolve in Spain
“The data supports that throughout the year we are activating measures and investing to reduce the impact of the fires. Monitor early and react early”, said Ribera after the Council of Ministers. The rule will also expand the minimum that communities must include in the provision, material means and equipment for firefighting equipment – one of the protests that the forest firefighters of Castilla y León showed during the fire that swept through Zamora in July.
The decree, which must be developed on a par with the regional executives, who are the ones with the most powers, urges that these plans divide the entire calendar into months of low, medium and high risk. "And it will be for the entire territory, it will no longer be worth limiting yourself to especially vulnerable areas," added the vice president.
Each year, these plans must be approved and published before October 31 to be applied during the following 12 months without interruption, explains the Executive. It must also include a catalog of prohibited activities established by Ecological Transition when weather conditions imply a very high or extreme risk of fire.
“We can no longer think of a fire season that occupies two or three months on our calendar. It is more than likely that the days of high or extreme risk will be lengthened by 40 days a year”, Ribera summarized.
The decree comes in the middle of a summer where the fires have been almost in step with the extraordinary heat waves recorded in June and July so that on July 24, the official data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition marked a razed area of mountain of 135,000 hectares . Three times more than the average for the decade. A figure that, at this point in the year, was only worse in 2012 in the last ten years. 31 large forest fires – of more than 500 hectares – have been recorded.
The campaign of large summer fires had its first attacks in June both in the Bermeja mountain range in Malaga and in the Culebra mountain range in Zamora. In both incidents, those in charge of extinguishing the flames, regional forest firefighters, get their protests about working conditions.
A month later, in July, Zamora burned again in the same area, this time the Tábara region, annexed to Culebra in the most devastating fire in the history of Castilla y León. Then, the firefighters reiterated their protests. And they showed the precarious provisioning that the Castilian-Leonese Board sent them.
Faced with professional criticism and management of firefighting devices, the Minister of the Environment of Castilla y León, Juan Carlos Suarez-Quiñones, stood out blaming environmentalists of, in part, the spread of the flames. The Prosecutor's Office has admitted a CCOO complaint for the way of governing that Suárez-Quiñones device.