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Spain. More than 120 fires in Asturias, deliberate arson by ‘fire terrorists’ suspected

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In Asturias in northern Spain, more than 100 fires broke out in just a few hours. The regional prosecutor’s office suspects deliberate, organized arson, state TVE reports. More than 600 firefighters, dozens of all-terrain vehicles, helicopters and planes are involved in extinguishing the fire.

More than 120 fires in 35 municipalities of Asturias in the north Spain erupted in the last two days. The Asturian Public Prosecutor’s Office launched investigations into the causes of the fires; intentional, organized arson is suspected, public television TVE reported on Friday.

More than 370 people have been evacuated in the region so far. Lessons were suspended in several schools, affecting 1,500 students. Many roads have been cut off to vehicular traffic.

Fire in AsturiasPaco Paredes/PAP/EPA

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The fire reached close to the capital of Asturias, Oviedo. From many parts of the city on Friday, fire and smoke were visible from the burning nearby Mount Naranco, on top of which there is a 30-meter high statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Residents of the nearby municipalities of Cuyences and Fitoria were evacuated. According to the mayor of Oviedo, Alfredo Cantela, the fire was started at dawn in more than 10 places at once.

Asturias regional prime minister Adrian Barbon described the situation as “very serious”. “We haven’t seen that yet, we’re facing fire terrorists who are operating in an organized manner,” he said. “It’s like a pandemic, we can’t attack, we can only defend ourselves and save lives,” he added.

Fire in AsturiasJl Cereijido/PAP/EPA

Hundreds of firefighters are involved in extinguishing the fire

More than 600 firefighters, dozens of all-terrain vehicles, helicopters and planes are involved in extinguishing the fire. The goal for now is to contain the fire, as it is not possible to put it out effectively. The smoke is visible from space, captured by satellite cameras from the EU’s Copernicus programme.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles announced that soldiers from the military rescue unit would be involved in the firefighting operation. Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchezwhich is currently located in Chinaexpressed his condolences on Twitter to the families affected by the fires and promised to hold those responsible to account.

Arsonists face up to 20 years in prison. In 2023, over 28,000 ha of forests have been burned in Spain. This is as much as 38 percent. losses across the EU – according to the data of the European EFSI system.

Main photo source: Paco Paredes/PAP/EPA

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