Thursday, 21 June 2012

Five fires in the area in less than 24 hours

Man despairs at ruined garden,
Torreguadiaro yesterday
CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR (Agencies) Five separate fires broke out in the are in less than 24 hours; three in San Roque and two in Algeciras. All of them were extinguished rapidly, except the major one at Torreguadiaro and one at Las Arenillas, between Sotogrande and Castellar, near the luxury development La Reserva de Sotogrande. The former was under control by 9pm last night, and the second, by  about 7.30. First estimates say that some 100 hectares were burned near Torreguadiaro, while the latter burned about a hectare of pine and cork oak forest. This one has a history of similar fires over the years, which leads to local speculation about it being intentional in order to make way for further development. There was another outbreak, though comparatively minor, at San Martín del Tesorillo>>>
at about 9pm on Tuesday, undercontrol and extinguished an hour later.

There had been no major fires in the Torreguadiaro area for 17 years, and residents have voiced their complaints about the time it took to get firefighting teams into operation. Several homes were damaged, though not burned down completely this time. The previous outbreak, in 1995, saw three homes burned to the ground before it was brought under control.

Jesús Mayoral, PIVG Councillor at San Roque and a resident of Torreguadiaro, told us that the Westerly (Poniente) wind helped to spread the fire very rapidly, causing panic among the inhabitants, many of whom refused to leave their homes despite the dangers. Some of them later complained about building plots not being cleaned of brush, according to Mayoral. The Councillor explained that in that section there is a difference between those that are urbana and those that are rústica. In the latter case, the Council can do nothing about it. In any case, he added, municipal law says that it is up to the proprietor to clean the plot. Some 150 plots have been cleaned of brush in the area so far this year, and another 100 have been fenced off in Sotogrande after they were deemed a fire risk.

San Roque Mayor Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix thanked his counterparts in Los Barrios and Manilva, for their help in sending Local Police and Civil Protection units to join forces with personnel from INFOCA, the local firefighting headquarters, Guardia Civil, Local Police and Civil Protection.

The nature conservation unit of the Guardia Civil, SEPRONA, and fire detection experts from the Environment Council are still investigating the origins of the fire.

Other less intense fires broke out yesterday in Algeciras in the same area as they had on Tuesday, on Los Álamos street at Los Pinos. About one thousand square meters were affected. According to local sources, it is possible that both were intentional, or at any rate, that they had not been put out properly in the first place.

The authorities are warning that this is a particularly dangerous year for fires because of the dry winter months. All precautions are extremely important, and we are advised to make sure that we do our bit towards avoiding any further occurrences. Experts agree that there are likely to be more fires in the area this summer. A reminder: barbecues in the countryside are strictly forbidden, in a garden and on a terrace or patio they are allowed but, again,  precautions about wind and water supply must be taken.

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