Firefighters in northern Spain have been battling 120 wild fires, some of which officials suspect were deliberately started. The wild fire has mostly affected the regions of Cantabria, Asturias and the Basque Country.
About 82 fires are currently active in Cantabria where strong winds have fanned the blazes destroying more than 2,000 hectares of land of "extraordinary ecological value", the regional president Miguel Angel Revilla said in a statement. He said that the wild fires threatened the present and future of landscape of Cantabria.
About 400 workers are fighting the raging fires in the region. Revilla described the situation as "the greatest catastrophe in the history of Cantabria" after visiting the mountain village of Barcena Mayor where army has deployed 287 soldiers to control the fires.
He added that "90 or 99% of fires were caused by ecological criminals" who want to take advantage of the hot and dry climatic conditions to spread the fires. These criminals have interest in obtaining better pasture from fire for their livestock, a cause Revilla said was "hopeless".
The president sought cooperation from citizens to come forward and information that may be useful in investigating the causes of forest fires. He told local residents to guard their agricultural machinery against fire, drive carefully on the tracks with smoke and seek alternative routes away from the fires.
With strong winds accompanied by unseasonably warm weather predicted for the next few days, forest fires may spread across the region, officials have warned. In the neighbouring region of Asturia, 38 forest fires were reported – of which 31 were under control – the region's government said.