So far this summer, the Balearics has been hit by few forest fires, but as temperatures are expected to rise this month, the Guardia Civil has launched a special anti-forest fire operation. Last year in the Balearics, around 30 forest fires destroyed a total 168.76 hectares of woodland and the Guardia Civil forestry patrol SEPRONA is now on full alert. SEPRONA agents last year managed to detect 10 fires in their very early stages and also arrested four people suspected of arson. Last year, SEPRONA arrested a total of 154 people across Spain and Guardia Civil sources said yesterday that arson accounted for 15 per cent of last year's forest fires. The forest fire operation's principal objectives are fire prevention, investigation and safety. Over the next month, SEPRONA agents on trial bikes, in 4x4 jeeps, from spotter planes and up watch towers, will be keeping a close eye on all the Balearics' forest fire “hot spots.” But patrols will aso be watching hikers and campers in the hills and forest while keeping a close eye on the region's waste tips. This summer however, SEPRONA has the support of all the various Guardia Civil brigades from the Traffic police to marine patrols in the fight against forests fires, and they are taking their task extremely seriously. Last summer, for example, as I waited in a queue of traffic in Inca with a cigarette in my hand hanging out the window, a traffic police officer pulled up on a motorbike and told me to make sure I stubbed it out inside the vehicle and did not toss it out the window because of the forest fire danger. The majority of forest fires are caused intentionally - last year just 172 were due to natural causes. One of the worst fires in Majorca was caused by a farmer burning a field, the flames got out of hand, in a panic he fled the scene and the blaze caused serious damage. In the event of a fire, the Guardia Civil are asking people to immediately call any of the local emergency numbers and do exactly as they are told by the operator. mc.mdbUbitel.es

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