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Spanish firefighters braced for wildfire season after a spring drought and high temperatures

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Spanish firefighters carry out preventative measures ahead of the summer’s wildfire season as a drought and high temperatures already recorded in the spring means there will be more blazes

Spanish firefighter brigades from Madrid are busy carrying out prevention work in the forests surrounding the capital ahead of wild fire season.

A drought and high temperatures recorded this spring could mean the country is heading towards a complicated summer.

Firefighter José Miguel Abarca said it’s work that should help reduce the spread of blazes.

“Our job here is to reduce the amount of fuel mass, so when fires break out, they develop in a less virulent manner,” he explained.

The recent hot weather conditions have forced the prevention campaign to start earlier as well as reinforcing firefighting teams.

While work continues on foot with heavy machinery, the brigades are ready to act in the event of an alarm.

Head of Wild firefighters in Madrid, Marta Jerez de la Vega said the process is both carrying out preventive measures and the teams being also on call.

“What we have done is a mixed system. That is to say, the workers continue to do preventive work, and at the same time they carry a fire truck with them, which is what they would be using to extinguish wildfires throughout the summer, when they are already in ‘extinguishing mode,” Jerez de la Vega said.

During this spring, Spain has already experienced conditions typical to summer. So far this year more than 58,000 hectares have already burned.

Dangerous conditions are when temperatures are above 30 degrees, with humidity below 30% and winds are more than 30 km per hour and it’s called a fire triangle.

“Right now there are already fires that are beyond our capacity to extinguish. We can’t fight against 50 metre flames,” said Jerez de la Vega.

Global warming, along with the El Niño phase, is forecasting record temperatures over the next five years according to experts.

Fighting fires also implies a change of behaviour in our mentality according to Jerez de la Vega.

“Nobody is aware that with our own behaviour we are putting ourselves at risk. We have to adapt everything to what nature is presenting us with,” she said.

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