Italian firefighters battle to extinguish forest fire on Mediterranean island

Italian firefighters battle to extinguish forest fire on Mediterranean island

27 July 2013

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Spain / Italy — Firefighters on the Spanish island of Mallorca battled on Saturday to put out a forest fire which broke out early in the afternoon, burning at least 1,600 hectares.

A total of 275 firefighters aided by 15 aircraft are currently combating the blaze and a further 70 firefighters are expected to arrive on the island later on Saturday night.

The fire broke out at around 12:30 p.m. local time in at Sa Coma, close to the exclusive resort of Andratx. Some 50 homes in the area have so far been evacuated in the west of the Mediterranean island.

According to Jose Ramon Bauza, President of the Balearic Islands, the fire was caused by human “imprudence.”

“That imprudence now means that around 1,600 hectares are burning,” he stated, “one person’s careless act means that what was the patrimony of everyone is in flames and hundreds of years of growth has been lost in a question of minutes,” he said, lamenting the ecological impact of the disaster.

“It is terrible and absolutely dramatic,” said Bauza.

The winds which blew during Friday night and which continue on Saturday have made it impossible to bring the flames under control in an area of pine woods and low scrubs. A cool wet spring followed by a hot month of July has produced the perfect conditions for fires to spread.

Meanwhile temperatures reaching up to 39 degrees centigrade, coupled with a sea breeze also played a part.

Nevertheless, one positive factor is the closeness of the fire to the sea which has made it easy for the aircraft fighting the flames to fill their water tanks.

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