It is a good news story and one I thought readers in Andalucía should know about. Yet I also knew the penning of it was tempting fate for a cigarette end tossed from a car or a pyromaniac at work could suddenly change the low level of summer fires in Andalucía this year.
The message from the regional government is clear. There is an extremely high risk of a major blaze, people should not lower their guard, yet the number of fires so far this summer is less than half the normal annual average – but don’t relax your vigilance.
The director general of the management of the natural areas for the Andalucía government, Javier Madrid, has told the Efe news agency that the intensive winter and spring rains have maintained a high level of humidity in the Andalucía forests. The high temperatures of July and August are causing a drying out effect and as they do so the risk of fires increases.
Another cause of forest and scrubland blazes are the dry storms. Lightning without any accompanying rain has caused major damage in past years to the Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas national parks.
Madrid stressed there had been no cut back in the Infoca specialist fire teams. Up to August 12 they had tackled 335 incidents but that was half the average over the last decade. The statistics for hectares damaged by fires is even more impressive. Again on average over the last decade by August 12 7,774.21 hectares would have been ablaze compared with 442.57 to the same date of this year.
There is some way to go before Andalucía can relax and hopefully look back on a good summer with low fire totals. The period during which there is a high risk of fires runs to October 15 and it takes just one simple act of carelessness to dramatically alter the final outcome.
In the days since I penned those words there have been no major infernos. We have had heavy thunderstorms instead – very wet ones indeed – with three people being killed in Córdoba province. Yet as I write this thunder is rumbling around – has been all afternoon – without any significant rainfall so I have to hope that by now the woodlands are wet enough again to withstand any dry lightning strikes.
Touch wet wood for a summer of record low fires!