Wildfires rage in Spain
Aug 26, 2012 / 12:25 pm
Two wildfires in the south of Spain forced the evacuation of around 1,000 residents, making this the worst summer in a decade for countryside devoured by flames, authorities said Sunday.
A fire started near Bedar, 85 kilometres north of Almeria, where residents spent the night in a sports centre, regional officials said.
Residents and army personnel have collaborated with firefighters in combating the flames, Bedar Mayor Maria Gonzalez said.
Another fire was being brought under control late Sunday near the Mediterranean beach resort of Estepona.
This year, Spain has lost 149,300 hectares of forest and countryside in more than 11,650 wildfires, compared to around 107,000 hectares for the whole of 2002, according to official statistics.
Seven people, three firefighters and four civilians, have died as a result of wildfires during the year, and parts of Spain's most precious forests have been burned.
Among areas charred is the Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site located in La Gomera in the Canary Islands
Diana Colomina of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund said experts has estimated it would take the 800 hectares of Garajonay that had burned at least 150 years to recover.
Very low rainfall and searing summer temperatures have made much of Spain tinder dry in recent months, conditions that have coincided with harsh spending cutbacks by both regional and central governments.
Spanish authorities say arson and fires caused by carelessness are on the rise in the country compared to previous years.
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