The Sierra de Mijas fire was one of the two biggest to affect Malaga province this year. / sALVADOR SALAS

Fewer wildfires in Andalucía this year but they were bigger and caused more damage

The Junta said the drought and high summer temperatures had been “an explosive combination in terms of fire risk”

JOSÉ LUIS PIEDRA SEVILLE.

There have been fewer wildfires in Andalucía in 2022 but they have caused more damage, according to the latest report from Plan Infoca, which shows that fire fighters have been called out on 681 occasions to fight forest fires this year.

Most of these – 528 - were caught before they had spread very far and burned less than a hectare of land, but the remaining 153 were much more serious. There have been 34 fewer fires than in 2021, but they devastated 18% more land than the ones that broke out last year: 15,564 hectares compared with 12,924.

This summer was particularly dangerous because of the dry conditions and extreme temperatures, the Junta de Andalucía’s general director of Forestry and Biodiversity Policy, Giuseppe Aloisio, has said.

Heat and drought, an explosive combination

He said the drought and the heat had been “an explosive combination in terms of fire risk”, with temperatures over 40C for over a month and vegetation under stress because the previous winter and spring had been so dry.

He also explained that just six wildfires had burned 80% of the affected land this year. Of the biggest, two were in Malaga province: one in Pujerra and the other in Mijas. More recently, a devastating blaze in Los Guájares in Granada led to more than 6,000 people having to leave their homes as a precautionary measure.

Aloisio explained that there had been an accumulation of dry material on the mountains this year and that the fire prevention authorities have now begun to remove this through controlled burning because it poses such a risk. This accumulated material was part of the reason this year’s major fires spread so quickly.