Plan Infoca
Four people investigated for wildfire in Tarifa which is being fought by 18 aircraft and 175 firefighters
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Four people investigated for wildfire in Tarifa which is being fought by 18 aircraft and 175 firefighters

The Junta de Andalucía's emergency plan has been activated, with 600 hectares so far affected since the forest fire broke out on Monday afternoon

Tuesday, 4 June 2024, 18:11

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The Junta de Andalucía's Minister of the Presidency, Antonio Sanz, announced today (Tuesday, 4 June) that four people are under investigation as being allegedly responsible of a crime of negligence in causing the fire that broke out yesterday in La Peña, in the municipality of Tarifa, Cadiz province.

In the press conference following a meeting of the Junta's governing board, Sanz explained that these people had their statements taken yesterday evening, and it is still to be determined whether or not they will be charged with any offence related to the fire.

He also confirmed that the Emergency Phase, Operational Situation 1 of the Andalusian Forest Fire Emergency Plan, has also been activated in order to provide more resources to the teams working on the ground to control and extinguish the fires, where 18 aircraft, 175 firefighters and various land resources are currently deployed.

On the origin of the fire, which has so far affected some 600 hectares of land, Sanz detailed that the investigation is focusing on "possible forestry work" that was carried out "on a private estate" despite the ban that has been in force in the whole forest area since 1 June, together with "very exceptional circumstances, with a strong wind that made this type of work even more dangerous" and which provoked "a reaction" and the subsequent fire.

"This type of activity can cause a spark, the reaction of which is what has caused this fire and, logically, this type of situation must be avoided. That is why I would like to reiterate, please, maximum prudence and maximum responsibility", said the Minister of the Presidency and the director of Plan Infoca (the Junta's specialist forest fire brigade), who insisted that "the consequences are what we are experiencing today in a fire that is frankly complex".

Sanz pointed out that "95% of forest fires are caused by man", clarifying that "many times" by "negligence, irresponsibility or recklessness", which does not mean that it is an intentional fire. In this regard, he indicated that public cooperation has been "fundamental" in this case for a "rapid" reaction and that today, Tuesday, they will have "some initial conclusions as to what it was".

Regarding the fire, Antonio Sanz clarified that it "is still active" and that "all means are being used to avoid greater consequences". He explained that of the two existing outbreaks, one is in a "fairly contained" situation in terms of propagation, while in the northwest area, "the most active", a watercourse is burning "with a high fuel load" and "it is difficult to access by land, so we are prioritising the unloading of cargo planes on the ground with retardant liquid".

There are currently 18 aircraft deployed, of which nine are helicopters - one heavy helicopter and eight medium-heavy helicopters - as well as nine other aircraft, namely six ground-loading aircraft, two heavy seaplanes and a Plan Infoca coordination aircraft.

In terms of human resources, 175 forest firefighters are working in the area, five fire engines, heavy machinery, 11 operations technicians and other officers such as environmental agents and the Forest Fire Investigation Brigade.

At a press conference, the Minister announced that the fire alert level has been raised from the pre-emergency phase, Operational Situation 0, to Level One, in order to provide "more resources and more capacity" to the teams and also to take measures "of a preventive nature for the population".

In this sense, he commented that "at the moment there is no pending evacuation of the area, nor any situation that could affect the safety of the people who live there", recalling that yesterday afternoon it was decided to "remove" some 62 people from the area of their homes, although he clarified that "there was no evacuation", as they were able to return to their homes shortly afterwards.

However, he stated that "we prefer to take decisions of maximum prevention, and hence the activation of the level towards a situation of incorporation of maximum level of crews to try to stabilise the fire as soon as possible", as it has been registered in an area "with a lot of wind" and "very complex" as it is "difficult to access".

The fire in the La Peña de Tarifa mountain area broke out on Monday at 1.15pm. Since then, Plan Infoca teams have been working with ground and air resources to try to control and extinguish it, with 175 professionals, 17 air resources and six heavy extinguishing vehicles being deployed yesterday.

Last night's work focused on closing off the active fronts on the left and right flanks, as well as opening lines. A reconnaissance flight was made at around 8.00am to ascertain the situation of the fire, where, according to the data provided by the firefighters themselves, there is a south-easterly wind of 20 kilometres per hour.

This is the first "big" fire recorded in the province of Cadiz this summer, the third in three days after the other two, smaller ones, on Saturday and Sunday in the San Bernabé area in Algeciras and in the Pinar Dunas area in Barbate.

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