(Agencies/Update) The forest fire in Castellar we reported on yesterday, which decimated over seven hectares, took some nine hours to extinguish. A lot of that has to do with the brave men and women of>
the INFOCA forest fire prevention plan set up by the Environment Department of the Junta de Andalucía. The Campo de Gibraltar’s headquarters are based in Los Barrios and employs some 80 permanent people at the retenes (units). They are distributed among eleven observation units, each of which has seven members in the field, three administrators or coordinators and six observation posts throughout the area. Additional staff are often taken on during the most dangerous season.
Technical resources include three pump trucks with capacity for 4,000 litres of water each and a mother truck with 11,000 additional litres. The helicopter pad in Los Barrios can operate several units at the same time.
But there is more. The local units often cooperate with other such operations over the province of Cádiz as well as Málaga and Sevilla; in turn, other provincial units cooperate with the Campo’s, such as with the Castellar fire. In fact, the province’s forests are criss-crossed by some 800 kilometres of firebreaks, which are patrolled throughout the year, not only during the maximum alert season we are now in. This is to make sure the underbrush is cleaned out all the time, to prevent the otherwise more rapid spread of a fire.
The INFOCA plan for Andalucía received the 2003 National Award for fire prevention, although there have been more recent protests about downsizing.