S.European fire damage nears area for whole 2006

S.European fire damage nears area for whole 2006

2 August 2007

published by uk.reuters.com

EU — Southern Europe has suffered almost as much damage from forest fires this year as in the whole of 2006 and more blazes may hit southern Spain in the days ahead, the European Union said in a statement on Thursday.

The European Commission said figures from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), showed 3,376 sq km (1,303 sq miles) of land had been burned so far in 2007.

This compared with a total of 3,585 sq km (1,384 sq miles) for the whole of 2006.

“The situation in southwest Europe, which had relatively moderate conditions in July, has changed dramatically, particularly in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands,” the EFFIS said.

“These two areas are experiencing increased fires…and continued heightened risk.”

There was a sharp increase in fires in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Italy, four out of the 14 southern European countries covered in EFFIS’s data, in the second half of July.

Figures for some other countries that had experienced blazes, such as Turkey and Albania, have yet to be included in the survey, conducted using a meteorological and satellite-based mapping system.

The European Union said this week it was helping Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Macedonia tackle fires, though its resources for doing so were stretched to the limit.

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