Friday, September 30

The Badajoz City Council clears 40 hectares of plots to prevent fires

Workers clearing the slopes of the Alcazaba last week. / TODAY

The campaign in the outskirts represents 17,560 euros while FCC assumes the cleaning tasks in the urban area

Natalia Reigadas

In many corners of the center and the surroundings of Badajoz a buzz is heard these weeks. It is a fully functioning brushcutter. In some lots, the vegetation exceeds the height of a person and, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees every day, the risk of fire skyrockets. An important part of these lands belongs to the City Council, about 40 hectares that are being cleaned to try to prevent them from burning.

With the heat there are fires every day, but these are fewer fires than a decade ago. Last year, statistics from the Municipal Fire Service showed that in 2021 there were half the fires that occurred in 2016. 375 last year compared to 775 that occurred five years earlier.

Experts point out that this decrease is due to the fact that there is now more clearing in the city. One of the causes is the new ordinance that allows the owner of uncleaned land to be fined up to 1,500 euros. The sanction can be increased if he is a repeat offender or if he burns. Each season the City Council sends 1,400 letters to the owners of plots in Badajoz to remind them of this obligation.

To the cleaning carried out by private owners, encouraged by the sanctions, is added the work of clearing municipal land. In 2016, the Badajoz City Council approved a Periurban Forest Fire Prevention Plan, a requirement to which the municipality is bound by regional law. In 2020 the Consistory approved a contract valid until 2023. In this 2022 it will invest 17,560 euros in clearing 27.3 hectares. Most of these plots are on the outskirts of the city, right on the edge of populated areas, but there are also large plots in areas such as the Seville highway, El Manantío, Corazón de Jesús, etc. Likewise, the City Council owns most of the territory surrounding the districts.

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in districts

Specifically, the City Council of Badajoz has 2 hectares in Alcazaba, one in Alvarado, 1.8 in Balboa, 2.4 in Gévora, 1.1 in Novelda del Guadiana, 1.8 in Sagrajas, 0.2 in Valdebótoa and 0. 08 in Botoa.

Added to this figure are the 11.7 hectares of plots that are municipal, but are within the urban area. Some are empty plots, for example, for endowments, such as the surroundings of the police station, and in other cases they are medium-sized and small plots without landscaping. In this case, it is the operators of FCC, the cleaning concession company, who carry out the clearing.

Finally, the City Council carries out, separately, the elimination of weeds on the slopes of the Alcazaba. This space requires a separate contract, more expensive, due to the difficulties presented by the land, with steep slopes. The works have finished a few days ago and have cost 30,000 euros. Despite the cleanup, a small fire has broken out this weekend near Legion Park.

As for the rest of the land, the works began at the beginning of May and are finishing. The clearing patrols will work until the end of June.

Depending on the type of terrain, different clearings are carried out. The plots of the urban area, as is required of private owners, must be completely clean, both of weeds and garbage to avoid events.

In the suburbs, it is only necessary to create firebreaks that distance the danger from the residential areas and prevent the fire from spreading uncontrollably. Depending on the size of the plot, the firewall will be larger or smaller. It also varies by its proximity to the urban core. For example, plots near neighborhoods such as Huerta Rosales, Llera or Cerro Gordo must have cleared areas on the edges eight meters wide. Thus, in case of flames, they will not approach the houses. In agricultural and forest areas, however, these firebreaks are three meters wide.

In addition to brushcutters, operators also use chainsaws. These tools are necessary to cut species such as ailanthus or cane that are harder.

99% of solar fires are intentional

The latest statistics from the Municipal Fire Extinguishing Service show that 99% of grass fires in Badajoz are arson.

Natural causes of fire are very rare. These may be dry storms, but there are hardly any cases.

Firefighters know that fires are arson because many start at multiple sources. It is not in all cases of arsonists, sometimes there are interests. For example, clearing a nearby plot of land that has not been cleared and using fire. However, this is not allowed in times of fire risk because the flames can easily spread.

Last year there was a striking case. A man on a motorcycle was causing fires on the Olivenza and Las Vaguadas highway. Witnesses saw him leave the areas where the fires started, but he was not identified.

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