2 firefighters killed battling forest blaze in northwest Spain

By Daniel Woolls, AP
Friday, August 13, 2010

Spain: 2 firefighters killed battling rural blaze

MADRID — A forest fire fanned by shifting gusts of wind killed two firemen in northwestern Spain, officials said Friday.

The blaze broke out Thursday night near a village of some 2,000 people in Pontevedra province, part of Spain’s normally cool and misty Galicia region.

Crews brought it under control as of midday Friday after the blaze charred 100 hectares (250 acres) of forest, the regional government’s rural affairs department said.

Crews battling the fire through the night faced strong and constantly shifting winds that made their work harder, it said. The exact circumstances of the two men’s deaths is not yet known.

Rural affairs chief Samuel Juarez said arson is suspected as the cause of the fire, saying it was suspicious that four fires have broken out on four consecutive days in the same area.

In neighboring Portugal, the Civil Protection Service said 19 wildfires were burning Friday in northern forests and the country’s president and prime minister returned from their vacations to visit the operational command center.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva and Prime Minister Jose Socrates were due to be briefed by fire chiefs in Lisbon.

More than 800 firefighters, more than 260 vehicles and 20 aircraft were in action, the Civil Protection Service said on its website.

Authorities said they were most concerned about blazes in the Peneda-Geres and Serra da Estrela national parks, where some wildfires have raged for almost three days.

Two firefighters also died in separate incidents in Portugal earlier this month. A woman firefighter died after being engulfed by flames in a forest, and another was killed in a road accident after returning from a blaze.

Wildfires are common in Portugual during the summer. Almost 10,000 fighters and 56 aircraft are on standby this year.


Associated Press Writer Barry Hatton in Lisbon contributed to this report.

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