Two killed as 'deliberate' forest fires ravage Spain

8th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 August 2005, MADRID – Two people have died in the struggle to put out forest fires which are ravaging parts of Spain.

8 August 2005

MADRID – Two people have died in the struggle to put out forest fires which are ravaging parts of Spain.

Francisco Javier Tirado Rodriguez, 29, died on Saturday helping to fight a blaze started that day in Casavieja in Ávila. Rodriguez, who is well-known in his home town for his work protecting the environment, was hit by rocks which became loose during the fire.

On Monday, officials said the fire had destroyed an estimated 800 hectares of forest and was believed to have been started deliberately.

On Sunday, in Galicia, in Orense, Antonio Diaz, 50, died as he piloted a plane spraying water over an area engulfed in flames.

On Monday, more than 27 fires were still burning throughout the country, many started during the weekend which experts had warned would be especially hot and dry.

Fire fighters in the province Castilla y Leon were tackling 11 fires which had destroyed some 4,100 hectares, with the most serious being highlighted as that at Avila and a second in La Cabrera in Leon, which had destroyed 3,100 hectares.

The farming and fishing minister Elena Espinosa, who visited the family of Rodriguez to give her condolences, called for people to behave responsibly. She pointed out that the vast majority of the forest fires this summer have been started deliberately and stressed "the majority of the burnt woods will be difficult to restore".

For her part, the environment minister Cristina Narbora admitted that the government needed to do more to tackle forest fires.

"The government isn't satisfied with how it has acted," she said. "However, it isn't resigned; it's committed."

There were "many faults to be addressed," she added. However, the minister said the conservatives were wrong to accuse the socialist government of "letting people die" and "little short of involuntary homicide".

"There hasn't been a single year in history when there has been so little rain," she said, adding that those circumstances made exceptional measures necessary. The minister said she would consider vetting local festivals which used fireworks and bonfires, in addition to the ban the government has already introduced on smoking and lighting bonfires in certain zones.

Narbora said she still felt bitterness, anxiety and powerlessness when she thought of the 11 volunteer firefighters who lost their lives in the Guadalajara fire last month.

She pointed out that during the conservative PP government's eight years in power, more than a million hectares were destroyed in forest fires and 32 people died.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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