Catalonia prepares for a difficult summer as risk of forest fires rises

The March snowfall and a rainy spring have brought high-risk to forests throughout Catalonia. Both rural and metropolitan citizens are taking extra steps to prevent summer forest fires.

CNA / Sarah Garrahan

June 28, 2010 06:09 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia is preparing to confront one of the hardest summers in recent years as the risk of forest fires has increased. The snow this past March as well as continuous strong winds and regular rains have created very dangerous forest conditions. The forest of Girona is said to be one of the areas at highest risk and could go up in a cloud of smoke if the climate does not cooperate. The area of Western-Catalonia is also especially delicate to fires due to its agricultural activity. The Southern region of El Camp de Tarragona, who recently experienced a devastating fire, has taken precautionary measures as to not repeat the tragedy. The Barcelona metropolitan area and surrounding counties are also preparing for a harsh summer.
In La Bisbal d’Empordà, in the inland Costa Brava, rural police will team up with the Catalan police to be on constant surveillance of the area of Les Gavarres, which is at high-risk after an accumulation of intense snow this winter that has increased the undergrowth and the quantity of dead wood. “We will coordinate to cover the maxim zone of surveillance”, said Jordi Romeu, head of the rural police of Baix Empordà. March’s snow storms affected 25,000 hectares of forest, the majority of which in the Gavarres region. This year, many rural citizens are looking up towards the sky, hoping for some rainfall that could prevent the risk of fire.

Officials from the Group of Forest Defence of Barcelona have told CNA that these zones already have a large amount of undergrowth and that the recent snowfall is just an “additional” risk. The organisation has denounced the Generalitat, claiming that they have waited too long and that it is now too late to clean the forests. In spite of this, the organisation remains optimistic for this summer.