The environment chief in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region, Manuel Rodriguez, has announced that a devastating wildfire that tore through 1,000 hectares of forest over two days was “clearly intentional.”
The fire, which began on Monday afternoon near the town of Ribas de Sil, had spread through over 1,000 hectares of forest by Tuesday, despite the emergency services having deployed 49 ground teams, 14 helicopters, and eight planes to battle the blaze. While a fire break has now been established, officials have warned the flames are “not [yet] stabilized or under control.”
“Investigators have identified various points that ignited simultaneously … Whoever did this knew perfectly well it would cause a lot of damage,” Rodriguez declared.
The smoke billowing from the fires has impacted visibility on local roads and railway lines, limiting travel in the area. The current weather conditions have presented an additional challenge, as hot temperatures and low humidity are helping the flames to spread. However, rain is predicted, which could aid the firefighting efforts.
Spain is among a number of European and Mediterranean nations to have been impacted by wildfires in recent weeks. This year alone, it has lost 74,260 hectares of land to blazes, which is higher than the yearly average over the past decade but still lower than the worst year on record, 2012, when 190,000 hectares were destroyed.
France, Greece, Italy, and Turkey have all been ravaged by forest fires, with high temperatures fueling blazes throughout the summer, and the Greek prime minister sacking his public order minister over the poor handling of that country’s wildfire crisis. Elsewhere, Algeria and Bolivia have also seen blazes rip through significant areas of forest.
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