Thursday, August 10, 2006

10.35: Second post of the day.

This is a translation of an article from La Voz de Galicia, addressing possible causes of the fires ravaging the region. Sadly, many of these don't reflect too well on the local populace. To say the least. Perhaps Fernando is right to say Galicians don't deserve their beautiful land . . .


Experts in the Guardia Civil are looking at a wide range of causes, among which – apart from the usual ones – figure the interests of drug smugglers.

Guardia Civil Experts on environmental matters explained yesterday that, according to the investigations they’re carrying out, the fires in Galicia serve multiple interests and reflect a wide diversity of causes – natural, socio-cultural, economic, technical and even political. Among the leading causes are, inter alia, the drought, the winds and flashes of lightening. In the second rank there’s a wide range, from ownership and use of the land to acts of vengeance. Among the economic interests are those of the wood-pulpers. And among the technical causes are cigarette butts, the burning of rubbish, scrub-burning that gets out of control, and rockets. What seems totally clear is that more than 65% of the fires are deliberate. Below we give some of the possible reasons why:-

Political Issues

This is one of the causes most fingered this summer and one which the investigators themselves don’t discount. The Lugo council is one of the local authorities which has made reference to this hypothetical cause. Other senior politicians [The Minister of the Environment in Madrid] have spoken of possible acts of revenge by those members of fire-fighting squads who didn’t have their contracts removed after Touriño’s team formed the government of Galicia [the Xunta].

Urban Development Interests

No one doubts that behind a good number of the fires, especially along the coast, lie the interests of urban developers. Some investigators believe these fires fit with an intention to force the Xunta to modify the Land Law once vast stretches have been burned. Currently it’s forbidden to build in zones destroyed by fire. The coastal stretch between Vigo and the Coast of Death is where there have been most fires, just as in 2005.

Wood Industry Interests

This is another of the possible leading causes, despite the fact some representatives of the Service for Protection of Nature [Seprona] insist that burnt wood has less value than it would seem. For example, they explain that charred eucalyptus can be bought at a lower price but the buyer then needs to incur greater costs as their bark-stripping machinery doesn’t work on it. This has to be done by hand. They add that burnt pine also has reduced opportunities. Anyway, there have been cases in which mountain communities have had to auction large lots of wood as the buyers have confirmed a lack of interest in it.

Pasture, Clearance and Revenge

Experts group these factors under the heading of socio-cultural. The need for grazing land for farm animals has traditionally been a principal cause but is now seen to be losing weight. There are fewer and fewer animals. Curiously, this year there have been no fires in those areas with the greatest number of herds. The experts also include under this heading possible acts of vengeance between neighbours. In addition, there is a factor which is increasing in relevance – the departure from mountain land of an ageing population.


Both the Guardia Civil and Regional Police have discovered people hunting in burnt areas the day after a fire.


The majority of arrests this year in Galicia have been for negligence. The accused started fires without permission and in the absence of the necessary security measures, leading to the fire getting out of hand.


The Guardia Civil include something from their training manuals. Some of the fires - above all those along the coast – could serve to distract them. While attention is concentrated in the mountains, drugs can be unloaded from the sea.

Work-related Reasons

Members of fire-fighting squads have be arrested on several occasions. They are presumed to light fires in their economic interests.

Rockets, glassware. . .

There are also accidental causes and to the list must be added the acts of pyromaniacs and various other factors.


Biopolitical said...

"The coastal stretch between Vigo and the Coast of Death is where there have been most fires, just as in 2005." Not true.

"This year there have been no fires in those areas with the greatest number of herds." Not true.

See here.

Portorosa said...

I just hope something can be done to stop this, and, afterwards, that we get to know what is after this impressive growth of the number and danger of the fires.

This is worse than 10 "Prestige".
Cheers, Colin.