Fire fighters struggle to save Spain's 'forest treasure'

23rd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

23 September 2005, GRANADA — At least 170 firefighters and 20 aircraft were trying to stop a major forest fire from ruining a large part of the Sierra Nevada National Park.

23 September 2005

GRANADA — At least 170 firefighters and 20 aircraft were trying to stop a major forest fire from ruining a large part of the Sierra Nevada National Park.

Already 2,000 hectares of land has been destroyed in the fire which has still not been brought under control.

Two walkers have been arrested for causing the fire by accident.

More fire fighting teams were being called in from Malaga, Jaen and other parts of Andalucia. 

Specialists said that the dryness of the land, after months with hardly any rain, and the abundance of pine needles on the ground meant the fire spread so quickly.

But they were optimistic it would not spread any further.

The blaze started near the town of Lanjarón in the Granada region on Thursday.

The landscape in the valley  between Lecrín and Nigüelas meant fire fighters were struggling to bring the blaze under control.

Also a strong wind had not helped to make sure it was brought under control.

Only a few people closest to the fire have been evacuated so far.

Authorities have not had to get entire villages to leave the area, as has been the case with previous major blazes in other parts of the country.

But the mayor of Lanjarón, Jose Rubio, said the fire had destroyed pine forest which it had taken 50-60 years to repopulate.

"It makes you want to cry," he said.

Lanjarón is in the south of the National Park of the Sierra Nevada, which is described as one of the 'treasures' of  European biodiversity.

It has the most diverse range of flora and fauna in the continent, said its director, Javier Sánchez.

Spain has lost 153,285 hectares of forest this year along in fires, a rise of 26 percent from 2004.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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