GFMC Summary: The fire that started last Sunday in the Guadalajara province east of Madrid and has killed at least 11 fire fighters, destroyed more than 8,000 hectares of pine woodland so far. Hundreds of people were to be evacuated from their villages in drought-stricken Spain.
Five big fires destroyed about 1650 hectares of woodland in Zamora region, close to Portugal.
Strong winds, high air temperatures and low relative humidity made it difficult to control a fire that affected more than 900 hectares near Castellnou de Bages in Catalunya.
Latest news from the Guadalajara fire:
Day-trippers Confess to Starting Deadly Forest Fire in Central Spain
(source: cms.firehouse.com )
MADRID, Spain (AP) — A group of day-trippers confessed to starting the blaze that killed 11 firefighters in central Spain in the country’s worst firefighting loss in years, an Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.
The group of 10 told the Civil Guard that their barbecue in a nature reserve of pine woodland in the Guadalajara province east of Madrid ignited the fire, said Carmen Vallejo, spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry of the Castilla y La Mancha region.
Only the person who ignited the barbecue faces formal charges pending further investigation, she said.
The blaze, one of the biggest in Spain this summer and the deadliest in years, has charred an estimated 12,000 hectares (29,600 acres). Firefighters were still fighting the fire Tuesday but were expected to have the blaze under control later in the day.
AP Photo/EFE, Victor Lerena
”The fire is practically under control but not totally extinguished,” said Vallejo. She added that only 40 of the 400 people evacuated had not yet returned home.
Police had blamed a barbecue that was not completely extinguished for the fire.
The firefighters, men and women ranging in age from 24 to 52, died after they were trapped in the fire Sunday when a change of wind altered the direction of the flames. Only two of the 11 bodies have been formally identified, Vallejo said.
Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega held an emergency ministerial meeting Monday after visiting the scene and called for tougher and speedier legal action against people who start such fires. She said that there were 16 forest fires throughout Spain over the weekend.
Fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions, fires destroy large stretches of woodland in Spain and neighboring Portugal every summer. Spain also is suffering from its worst drought since officials began keeping records in the late 1940s.
AP Photo/Paul White
A bulldozer works close to the flames of a forest blaze near Santa Mara del Espino, central Spain, Monday, July 18, 2005. 11 firefighters died in Sunday’s blaze, the deadliest in five years, believed to have been sparked by a barbecue.
AP Photo/Paul White
People from the nearby village look at a burned-out fire-fighting vehicles near Ribas de Saelices in the provence of Guadalajara in Spain Monday July 18, 2005.
ECPC Fire Weather Forecast:
The forecast indicates no extreme fire danger for Central Spain and the Pre-Pyrenees. The current fire danger, however, is due to unusually high day temperatures and low relative humidity. Spain is suffering its worst drought since the 1940s, with some reservoirs in the south at less than 20 percent capacity.