MADRID – The Spanish government said on Thursday it had set up a rapid-reaction force to fight wildfires that had 1,000 firefighters and 73 water-dropping aircraft at its disposal, along with a budget of 85 million euros ($99.3 million) and a capability to intervene anywhere in Spain.
Luis Planas, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food presented the force, adding that this year’s firefighting statistics had been the best in the past 10 years.
Planas said Spain had become “an international benchmark in the fight against fire, against the scourge of wildfires,” that devastated the country every year.
The minister said just 9,000 hectares had burned down in the first six months of the year, a considerable improvement on the 53,000 hectares that had turned to cinders in the same period the previous year.
The average amount of wooded landscape lost to fire over the same period during the past decade stood at 38,5000 hectares per year, he said.
Planas said that this year’s summer had begun with lower-than-normal temperatures and the after-effects of heavy rains had led to a significant increase in rural vegetation.
This meant that forest protection measures were very important, he said.