Forest fires in Spain: Galicia

Two of the main themes to regularly make the news here all Summer have been the drought in Spain and the forest fires, both directly related of course. This week the fires have hit Galicia, where yesterday firefighters were battling to put out 35 blazes, 8 of which were serious.

The president of Galicia has called an extraordinary meeting with regional and national political representatives this morning to discuss emergency measures. Meanwhile, Spain has sent two firefighting planes to Galicia’s neighbour Portugal, to help extinguish fires there.

Galicia has become more and more popular as a tourist destination among Spaniards looking for beautiful scenery and cooler Summer temperatures and rural tourism has thrived there in recent years, boosting the regional economy.

But paradoxically the rise in the number of tourists visiting Galicia may have made the region much more vulnerable to forest fires, with visitors not taking enough care when putting out fires, candles and barbecues, throwing lighted cigarette butts on the forest floor etc or just starting fires for the hell of it. Authorities claim that no less than 90 percent of all fires have been started deliberately by arsonists. Crazy.

According to information given by the regional department in charge of rural environmental care, Ourense has been hit worst by the spread of forest fires in Galicia this week, with 19 blazes, followed by Pontevedra (12) and A Coruña (7). So far this month 13,368 hectares of land has been destroyed by fires in the region, not including the fires which are blazing at the moment.