ZAMORA – The O.M. in Castilla y León, opens an investigation into the actions of the regional Ministry of the Environment in connection with the forest fire declared on 15 June in the Sierra de la Culebra, which destroyed 25,000 hectares.
The complaint was filed by the CCOO union, which suspects “acts that may constitute a crime” have been committed, the statement read. CCOO’s letter of complaint was directed against the responsible minister Juan Carlos Suárez Quiñones. The reason given was for failing to report the high risk of fires on the day the fire broke out.
Firefighting services at 25% of capacity
According to the union, the fire extinguishers were only at 25% of their capacity at the time. This was despite the fact there was a serious heatwave. Therefore, CCOO considers the planning of the Junta de Castilla y León outdated. Moreover, it only activates 100% of the resources in July. Also, it does not take into account climate change or atmospheric conditions. These would include the heatwave that hit the area at that time and relatively early in the year ravaged. The government would also have failed to carry out the necessary fire prevention tasks in the winter. This should normally involve cleaning and clearing the mountains.
The union announced it would file the complaint hours before that first major fire broke out in Castilla y León.
‘Extreme environmental awareness’ would be to blame, according to the minister
Minister Quiñones fueled the controversy last Monday by pointing to “extreme environmental awareness” and the philosophy of nature conservation” as the causes of the forest fires. “One of the causes, there are many”, he emphasised in an interview with radio SER. In it, he assured that these “trends” make cleaning the mountains difficult.
The opposition and environmental groups have denounced the statements and asked for his resignation. “The blame cannot lie with everyone except those responsible for the management of this autonomous community for the past 35 years,” confirmed the socialist Luis Tudanca.
Related post: Why is Spain on fire?
For Francisco Igea, of Ciudadanos, counsel’s words are due to the community’s government being hit “by the most dangerous smallpox, the smallpox of Vox populism”.
Ecologistas en Acción criticised the minister’s ‘childish’ way of ‘diverting attention from his own terrible management’ and putting the blame on the environmentally conscious. “We have nothing to do with managing forests and fires. We have no powers. It is blaming us to avoid responsibility ourselves,” coordinator Theo Oberhuber said on the news.
More than 65,000 hectares were blackened in Zamora
In the province of Zamora alone, more than 65,000 hectares have burned down during the first two heatwaves of the year since June. The June fire in Sierra de la Culebra destroyed 30,000 hectares and the one in Losacio broke out at 35,000 hectares. It is already considered the second largest fire in Spain’s history after the one at Riotinto (Huelva) in 2004. In addition, the fire in Zamora flared up again on Tuesday and is believed to be of human origin.