Disasters & Accidents

Spanish land lost to wildfires nears 40% of European total this year

Madrid, Jul 27 (EFE).- In the teeth of a hot and dry summer, wildfires in Spain this season have scorched an area that accounts for around 38.5% of the total burned by forest fires in the European region monitored by Copernicus satellite imagery.

The European Forest Fire Information System, which collects information on European Union countries and their neighbors, estimated Wednesday that more than 226,000 hectares of land had been burned by wildfires in Spain since January, a combined area greater than that of Luxembourg.

The largest Spanish wildfire of the season so far was a blaze in northwest Castile and Leon that killed two people – a firefighter and a shepherd in mid-July – and, according to the EFFIS, devoured 36,000 hectares of land. Several other forest fires remain active.

The satellite estimates can fail to account for pockets of land that were left unscathed inside the outer limits of a blaze, however. Spain’s government, which compiles data sent back from regional authorities, says roughly 122,000 hectares have been burned by wildfires so far this year.

EFFIS statistics suggest Spain is experiencing its worst season of wildfires in terms of area burned since its records began in 2008. Precise details can take years to confirm, Spain’s ecology ministry has said.

As per Spanish government records, which go back to 1968, that title is held by 1985, when 484,475 hectares of land were razed by fires.

While Spain has emerged as the European country most affected by wildfires this year in terms of area, extreme temperatures across the region are also fueling forest blazes in France, Italy and Greece.

A large fire at the Dadia National Park in Greece has burned 3,400 hectares in seven days, threatening southeastern Europe’s last remaining breeding colony of rare black vultures, as well as other threatened species of birds.

As of Wednesday, 300 firefighters, six planes and four helicopters were tackling the flames in the protected area.

In France, some 650 firefighters are responding to a large forest fire near Montpellier, in the country’s south, which has burned 1,000 hectares and prompted the evacuation of 280 residents of a nearby town and 150 wedding guests celebrating at a venue near the path of the blaze.EFE


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