27 Jul, 2009 @ 11:28
2 mins read

Wildfire kills six

OVER six people have been killed by fires across Spain, while thousands have been evacuated from their homes.

Greenpeace has warned that these lethal wildfires have become habitual since the 1990s due to global warming.

Four firefighters died in Catalonia at the end of last week, when winds suddenly changed direction, while a fifth died when his vehicle fell down a ravine in Teruel.

Dozens more were hospitalised across Spain with serious burns and breathing conditions.

Around seven big fires have been blazing across the country, made worse by the dry conditions and strong winds.

Most were under control by Monday morning, apart from two in the Valencia region.

Thousands of police, soldiers and volunteers backed by more than 30 aircraft fought the blazes across Andalucia and Eastern Spain, where temperatures peaked at 44C.

Most of these have now been brought under control, but British holidaymakers have been advised by the Foreign Office to check its website before they travel.

Over 1,500 people had to be evacuated from the Almeria resort of Mojacar, when flames blazed right up to the edge of the town.

Dozens of homes were burnt as the picturesque pine forests and almond groves which surround the town were turned into a charred wasteland.

Around seven big fires have been blazing across the country, made worse by the dry conditions and strong winds.

“It’s like a horror film around here,” said Benjamin Jackson, a 23-year-old British expatriate. “For as far as you can see, basically everything has burned down.”

One of those evacuated included Anne Kirkbride, 55, who plays Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street.

A source close to Anne said: “It was very, very scary for her. She said that when she looked up at the hills and saw the flames and smoke, she thought, ‘That’s it – we’re going to lose everything’.

“They’re back in the place now but are shaken up. Sadly, people have lost their homes. Anne is just keeping her fingers crossed, because the wind can change quickly.”

British ex-pat Philip Heseltine, 41, said: “The fire is huge. We’ve had about an hour’s drizzle since February so the place is bone dry.

“Temperatures have hit 48°C (118°F). The heat is like the devil’s breath.”

Sharon Pressley, who lives in Mojácar, said: “Police are saying they think it could be arson rather than the temperatures, but that is just speculation.

“The area where I live is free of fire at the moment, but the smoke and devastation is still there for all to see.”

Local authorities have deployed thousands of people and more than 30 aircraft to combat the flames in tinder-dry pine forest regions, and Spain has been placed on maximum fire alert.

Lightning bolts from an electrical storm that hit the Aragón region caused several of the blazes, El Pais reported.

Some Spanish farmers lost entire almond groves to the fires. The town of Teruel, in the region of Aragon, was badly affected. The mayor said: “What are we going to do? We will have to wait 30 years for everything to grow back again.”

A spokesman for the town of Segorbe, near Valencia, said it was believed that fires had been started deliberately.

The village of Soneja, just north of Valencia, had a lucky escape when fire consumed its cemetery, but got no farther.

Greenpeace warned this kind of fire is going to become habitual in Spain as climactic conditions are going to make it virtually impossible to extinguish them.

“Since the start of the 1990s we have been able to see the presence of fires that wipe out huge surface areas. Their virulence and destructive power is very high,”

The pressure group believes that the change in profile of these fires is related to the continued trend of global warming and changes in rainfall patterns.

“It is to be expected that unless climate conditions change again, this kind of fire will become more normal in the dry season,” they said.

Greenpeace Director Juan Lopez de Uralde called on the government to take stronger fire prevention measures, undertake better care of forested areas and combat climate change.

He added his frustration at the fact that only two out of 1,000 people suspected of lighting fires were actually prosecuted.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. Oh Greenpeace can’t you get off your soapbox!? I’m sick of hearing that every weather related event is down to global warming! For a start it’s not been proven beyond doubt that global warming is actually taking place, nor, if it is, that it’s due to man-made causes. There are other factors involved, sun spot activity for instance.

    The po-faced kill-joys of the green movement would like nothing better than for us to all stay at home and live on a diet of organic carrots while they jet around the world holding conferences pontificating! (Anyone notice how these climate change conferences always seem to be in interesting places – Kyoto, Hawaii, Copenhagen!).

  2. Chris is right. Of course mankind is affecting the Planet, but it’s nowhere near proven that climate change or global warming is caused by man – as I said earlier on another thread, the planet has been both warmer and colder in the past. There will never be 100% accuracy because man has not been on the planet long enough to see the whole picture.

    Taking 2 seconds of data (mans time on the planet) out of many billions of years and then producing a global warming result is just poor science. Greenpeace will only get unpopular with this approach, and I am a member!

  3. One of the problems of waiting for absolute proof of climate change (as opposed to the 85% certainty claimed by the worlds 1800 leading scientists on the IPCC), is that by the time it arrives it will be too late. Millions of people may be displaced, food production could be disrupted and modern human life could well be insupportable.

    Southern Spain and indeed Europe has suffered from heat waves of increasing duration and frequency during the last 130 years.


    If you are happy to believe the myths put out by climate change sceptics then be prepared to suffer the consequences if they have got it wrong.

    Personally I prefer to believe the wide range of expert opinion that support the evidence of climate change.

  4. I dunno about the Coronation street actress who was inconvenienced by the fire in Mojácar last month, but it burnt down a number of houses and bloody nearly burnt down mine. As it was, I lost the stables, several hundred trees and the garage. I then fell over and broke my foot while trying to stamp out an ember.
    The chief poobah of the Junta de Andalucía, one Joe Griñán, came by and we were told not to mention the fire as it might upset the tourists. He put some public funding into local newspapers to advertise our charms, beaches and tee-shirt emporia. Now the other side, in the shape of Jav Arenas (who has lost more elections than I’ve had hot dinners) thinks that we should publicise Mojácar in foreign parts!
    We really don’t need more tourists, you know. We’re full up.
    P.S. Anybody want to buy some charcoal?

  5. >If you are happy to believe the myths put out by climate change sceptics…

    And the climate change ‘experts’ have what exactly? Er… theories, predictions, simulations and computer models. No actual definitive proof. It’ll be a good thing when the next ice age naturally arrives as it surely will – the world needs a reset.

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