• Environment The Prosecutor's Office opens an investigation into the fires in Asturias
  • Castellón "The tasks with the subsidies of the Ministry have caused the fire"

Adrián Barbón, well known for his activity on Twitter, has devoted his account to reporting on the situation of the more than one hundred fires that devastate Asturias in what he describes as "authentic regional attack". "They, those who set fire, are responsible," the president accuses, "are terrorists of fire, who put the lives of people and our peoples at risk." However, both ecologists and farmers blame his management for what is happening this and many springs in Asturias.

"Although the Government of the Principality is not the one that lights the fuse, it is putting all the means so that Asturias burns." This is how the Asturias Ganadera association understands it, which feels like it again in the spotlight. Along with them, although for very different reasons, environmentalists also point to the regional government for what is happening. The spokesman of the Ecological Coordinator of Asturias, Fructuoso Pontigo, believes that the administration "has put all the facilities to the farmers so that the region is the only one in Europe where burning is free." And he explains it. The Forestry Law approved in 2017 allows burned areas to be used for pasture immediately, and also that burned land, unlike what happened with the previous Common Agricultural Policy, says Pontigo, is not subtracted from the land for which they receive subsidies.

The president of Asturias, Adrián Barbón, with residents of Luarca evicted by the fires. EFE

For Xuan Valladares, of Asturias Ganadera, defends this measure because "it is logical" that they are allowed to graze shortly after a piece of land is burned. "If not, if you don't put cattle in to eat the bush shoots, the weeds would return in less than a year. In addition, the feces of the animals serve as fertilizer and the earth regenerates faster, "he insists, and argues that extensive livestock "is not the cause but the solution to the problem of fires."


But it is the only progress achieved, says the livestock spokesman, because, with its policy, the Asturian Government has led to what he calls "illegal burning", which, he points out, are not the same as a forest fire. "They are burns that those who need pasture do, kill by kill because the administration does not clean or let you clean and so, what do the cattle eat?" The administration's solution to these "illegal burnings" has been controlled burning. They are "an advance", but say the farmers, "they are insufficient".

Valladares assures that behind the wave of fires that devastate Asturias are not the cattle ranchers. "What burns is forest, let the president wonder why he has been allowed to plant so much eucalyptus and pine and not native trees, which take twice as long to burn." He does acknowledge that on occasion an "illegal burning" can end in a forest fire, "because someone has gone out of hand, but I don't think that's the case. The area he is burning is of no use to anyone." And he wonders "why is the Naranco burning, where there are only villas?" Because there are people for everything, even those who because of quarrels with neighbors or even out of spite with the administration burns. When the fire goes out we will see how much area of livestock use was burned and then the president will have to give explanations."


Shortly before the fires more than a dozen environmental groups published a manifesto to ask for the resignation of the Minister of Rural Affairs, Alejandro Calvo, for his policy against fire. They regretted the same thing every year. "The snow season ends, the cattle go down and the fire starts, it's cyclical." The Superior Prosecutor of Asturias, María Esther Fernández, admits it: "If we superimpose the map year after year of the fires in Asturias, the areas and times almost coincide with us". And remember that every year more than 80% of fires in the region are intentional.

Fire of Monte Naranco de Asturias.EFE

To all this is added the problem of the collective that fights against fire. The guards have been denouncing for some time that sometimes they do not even have what to refuel with and that their vehicles spend months damaged. Firefighters had already called a strike starting Monday. Their claim goes back a long way. Lack of personnel. His spokeswoman, Nati Canto, wondered these days how many small fires get out of control because personnel do not come to extinguish them. "What if one day you have 20 fires and you only give to extinguish 15. Well, if they follow the same weather conditions, the next day you will have 30 ». They denounce that this week with an alert level 2 they had the same number of troops. Environmentalists go further and say that this level was not activated in time despite having more than 20 fires, because that meant paying more staff.

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