The Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development and the Andalusian Forest Fire Fighting Service, Plan Infoca, have today called for “maximum caution and responsibility” from all citizens in view of the high risk of forest fires, due to the heat wave affecting the community with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees in areas such as the Guadalquivir Valley. The entry of a mass of warm air from North Africa is causing this increase in minimum and maximum temperatures which, at least, will last until next Wednesday 15th June.
Thus, the Infoca Plan has asked all citizens to take extreme precautions in Andalusian forest areas, while reinforcing surveillance tasks throughout the duration of the heat wave that affects the entire Iberian Peninsula. In this preventive task, the network of fixed surveillance points, made up of 198 huts and towers, the environmental agents of the Andalusian Regional Government, the State Security Forces and Corps and the citizens themselves will be vitally important elements in the early detection of a forest fire. To this end, an information and awareness campaign has been launched on the main social networks.
In this regard, the Infoca Plan reminds that any sighting of smoke or flames should be reported to the emergency services through the single emergency telephone 112 to cooperate in the implementation of the extinguishing operation as quickly as possible from the detection of the fire. It is important to give a location of the fire as close as possible and, in the case of sharing information on social networks, to geolocate the photos and indicate the time they were taken. These details help to know in advance the possible scenario that the activated resources will encounter.
In the same vein, the Regional Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Carmen Crespo, has appealed to the “maximum citizen collaboration” to avoid risk situations that could lead to a forest fire. To this end, the councillor stressed the importance of complying with the rules. “We must all be on alert and call 112 if we see flames”, she emphasised, before recalling that “it is forbidden to light fires in the countryside, to throw lit cigarettes or bottles and to camp only in authorised areas”.
Crespo stressed that the protection of Andalusia’s rich natural heritage is a “collective task in which we all have to get involved”. For this reason, he insisted on “extreme caution and acting responsibly” in these days of heatwave with temperatures that will exceed 40 degrees in several areas of the Andalusian community. “We have to combine the enjoyment of natural spaces with responsibility and respect for the rules”, she remarked, after explaining that, in the event of being surprised by a fire, “do not enter the mountains and go through areas of visibility and free of fuel”.
High risk period
During the high-risk period for forest fires, which runs from 1 June to October, the use of fire and the circulation of motor vehicles is prohibited in Andalusia’s forest areas and areas of forest influence, i.e. land located within a 400-metre strip around these areas. With regard to fire, the prohibition includes both agricultural burning and barbecues, including in recreational areas.
Exceptions to this order, which must always have the prior approval of the territorial delegation of the corresponding province, include the preparation of food in children’s camps and the use of distillation boilers, charcoal ovens and piconeo. Barbecues may also be held in tourist accommodation establishments and in rural restaurants which, in both cases, are previously authorised to do so.
With regard to the transit of motor vehicles, among the few cases considered as exceptional are, for example, the use of right-of-way, emergency or fire-fighting services and authorised ecotourism activities.