This year the Balearic government intends to double its efforts in the battle against forest fires with more money and extra manpower being channelled into an all year around operation. But while the forces of nature are very difficult to predict, the main focus of the new forest fire campaign is to stamp out arson. Since 1970, 15'500 hectares, just over three per cent of the Balearics land mass, has been destroyed by fires started intentionally, according to the Balearic government. Forest fires, intentional or not, have in total, scorched eight percent of the region's total land mass between 1970 and 1999. Balearic deputy Chief Minister Pere Sampol and the local Minister for the Environment, Margalida Rossello, yesterday presented the findings of the recent investigation which has revealed that between the above dates, the Balearics have been hit by 3'234 forest fires. The causes of 1'214 of the blazes are unknown, 1'089 caused be negligence, 57 by lightening, 140 from other causes and 734 the result of arson. Of the total 40.122'9 hectares damaged by fire, arson accounts for 39 per cent.

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