Forest fires continue to rage in Spain

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Galicia is an autonomous community in the northwest of Spain.

Several forest fires which have ruined well over ten thousand hectares of land are continuing to burn in the Spanish region of Galicia today.

Four people have perished so far in the blazes which the government says were started intentionally by arsonists over a week ago. Police have arrested twenty-four people on suspicion of starting the fires. Among those being detained is a ninety-four year-old man.

"Those arrested are people who knew exactly what they were doing, knew they were committing crimes and went up into the hills to start fires, sometimes more than one," said the president of Galicia's regional government, Emilio Perez Tourino.

Four hundred troops are currently in the northwestern county guarding densely-populated areas, airports and power stations. Spain's President of Government, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said earlier this week that an additional 1,200 army personnel would be sent to the area to assist the fire service.

Yesterday, flames continued to threaten Galicia, but the number of fires said to be out of control reportedly dropped thanks to the vigorous efforts of firefighters, soldiers and volunteers.

Alfredo Canal, a Galician rural agency chief, told Reuters yesterday: "We have a situation that is noticeably better than in recent days."