Spanish president visits site of fire

José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero visited the scene of last week’s forest fire in Guadalajara yesterday and declared the area a catastrophe zone. While showing him around, the Mayor of Ablanque, which is one of the worst affected areas, was unable to control his grief.

A political row continues to surround the tragedy in Spain, and the government has received fierce criticism from members of the Popular Party and locals. During the funeral held on Friday for the 11 firefighters who lost their life during the blaze, government ministers attending the service received boos, whistles and jeers from people outside the church.

The Popular Party has demanded a full investigation into the management of the crisis, and last week a MP from the Popular Party had to be held back in the corridors of Congress when he tried to assault Perez Rucalcaba the Socialist government’s Spokesman.

During his visit to the area yesterday, Zapatero told the Spanish media that this week he will hold a meeting with the mayors of all the villages affected by the fire and with members of the Castilla de la Mancha’s regional government to design a plan on how to begin recovery work on the vast area land and forests destroyed by the blaze. The Spanish President also promised to improve resources available for preventing and fighting fires. On Friday the government passed a series of emergency measures, including a ban on smoking in the countryside until November although no explanation has been given on how the ban can possibly be enforced.