Forest fires continue to rage accross Spain

As the drought in Spain continues, the number of forest fires increases and according to government figures released yesterday so far this year Spain has registered 3,500 more forest fires than during the whole of 2004.

The Ministry of Environment announced that the number of big forest fires has risen to 17 – the highest figure for a decade – but that the extent of land affected by the fires was significantly lower between January and July this year compared to the same period last (in 2004 90,000 hectares were affected by fires and this year, 20,000).

Meanwhile two more people have lost their lives fighting fires in Avila and Ourense respectively this weekend. In Avila a young man died yesterday while helping to extinguish a fire in Casavieja, Avila, and a pilot died when his firefighting plane crashed as he flew it over a forest fire in Medeiros, Ourense.

Regional authorities said yesterday they suspected that another fire which started last Wednesday in the province of Leon and has so far destroyed 2,200 hectares of woodlands had been started deliberately.

High temperatures of above 40º made the task of firefighters even more difficult in Leon as the heatwave forecast to hit Spain this weekend started to make itself felt.

Over the next few days temperatures are expected to rise further and may reach 45º in some southern areas of Spain.