Saturday, August 12, 2006

20.55: Fourth post of the day.

Here’s the full text of the Voz de Galicia article cited earlier today. . .

The same as ever and something more

What has happened in the last week to turn Galicia into an inferno? When you put this question to the local police once you’ve heard their reasons for throwing out the handy theory of an organised plot, this is the answer you get – “The same as ever only more.”

In the absence of any official data on the fires, attempted fires, area affected, total forest mass burnt, we have to make do with that used by the investigators, which suggested 2006 was going to be a good year: in Galicia, fires recorded were down on last year.

So what happened last week? Well, the temperatures rose and the wind blew from the north east. This, together with the abandoned state of rural areas in general and the mountains in particular, almost on its own explains what is happening. If you add the discontented members of the companies of the [fire-fighting?] sector and the angry ones who have been let go, you don’t need black hands to seed chaos.

The first thing the experts did was to examine the profiles of the 20 people detained and what they found was the same as ever. The majority are mentally disturbed - commonly called ‘nutters - followed by those careless in the burning of stubble or in risky agricultural work. A woman accused of 30 fires since 2004 is a paradigm case. When interrogated, she spoke only about her cattle and sheep. She has been admitted to a health centre in Vigo.

In respect of the fire in Cotobade – which cost the life of two people and which could have caused the third level conflagration – the Guardia Civil received a denunciation which, once investigated, turned out to be false. The denouncer and the denounced both hated each other to death; each, it seems, had threatened to burn down the house of the other at one time or another.

The most disturbing case is of a young man of 23 who worked for 2 years for the Xunta. He is suspected of starting a huge number of fires during the last 3 months of unemployment. From the first day he worked for a public company dedicated to extinguishing fires. Once he was detained, his father presented a Habeas Corpus petition but the judge returned him to the Guardia Civil so that his case would be investigated. This is how things are.

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