Majority of forest fires in northern Spain attributed to arson
Asturias, a small region in northern Spain, claimed that the majority of the 100 or so wildfires burning in the densely forested and mountainous region on Friday were caused by unknown assailants.
Over the past two days, the fires have spread due to unusually high temperatures in the spring and strong winds. 400 people had to be evacuated from villages and small towns, and many roads were closed for safety.
“Terrorists who shoot” will face “the full weight of the law,” declared Adrian Barbón, the regional president of Asturias. He alleged that organized crime groups took advantage of unfavorable weather conditions to start the fires. He did not indicate the possible motives of the alleged arson addicts
Early Friday, area firefighters reported putting out 116 fires in 35 different locations. The number of fires dropped to 97 by midday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called Barbón from Beijing on Friday to show his support for the region. Later, in a press conference, Sanchez stated that if the fires were proven to have been started intentionally, the perpetrators would face punishment.
Alejandro Calvo, rural councilor for the Asturias region, said that although the cause of the fires is not entirely clear, “it is clear that it is a wave of provoked fires like never before.”
It was not immediately known how much land was affected by the fires. According to government statistics, Spain saw a total of 267,000 hectares (666,000 acres) burn last year, making 2022 the worst year for fire destruction since 1994. This was three times the ten-year national average.
Spain accounted for 35% of all land burned in European wildfires in 2022, according to the European Union’s Copernicus satellite monitoring service.
Unexpected wildfires in eastern Spain this week have burned more than 4,600 hectares of forest, forcing 1,400 people to flee their homes. Fewer fires were reported in Castellón province on Friday.
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