Spanish firefighters start wildfire prevention earlier than usual due to extreme weather

Spanish firefighters carry out preventative measures ahead of the expected summer wildfires
Spanish firefighters carry out preventative measures ahead of the expected summer wildfires Copyright AP
By Jaime Velázquez
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We followed the firefighters as they tried to prevent catastrophic blazes.


Spanish firefighter brigades from Madrid are busy carrying out prevention work in the forests surrounding the capital to prepare wildfire season.

A drought and high temperatures this spring could mean the country is heading for 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 has forced the prevention campaign to start earlier, along with recruiting more  firefighters.

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

Head of Wild Firefighters in Madrid, Marta Jerez de la Vega said the process is 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 of 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 heating, along with the El Niño weather phenomenon, means we are likely to see record temperatures in 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.

Watch the video above to see the firefighters in action.

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