Major 14,000 hectares fire in Spain caused by reforestation company
The blaze, which is estimated to have damaged 14,000 hectares, began when a spark from a soil excavator escaped.
An international reforestation company has expressed "devastation" after one of its contractors accidentally started a massive fire in Spain, where dozens of catastrophic wildfires have raged this week.
Land Life, a Dutch company with offices in Spain and the United States, said the fire started on Monday at one of its reforestation projects in Ateca, Aragón's north-eastern region.
The fire, which is estimated to have damaged 14,000 hectares (34,600 acres) of land, was started by a spark that escaped from an excavator used by one of its contractors to prepare the soil for winter tree planting.
It was finally extinguished late Thursday and forced the evacuation of 1,700 people from the surrounding area. The company stated that it notified emergency services as soon as the fire began and "profoundly regretted" the damage and inconvenience caused.
“We are devastated by the latest estimate that the damage will be around 14,000 hectares,” Land Life said, adding that “We sympathize deeply with the feelings of the local community who had to be evacuated from their homes and see their landscape severely damaged.”
Land Life stated that it had offered assistance to the authorities and had begun an investigation into what had occurred. “We will continue to follow up on anything we can do in this situation,” it added.
“We want to emphasize that the contractor, a local company with extensive experience in the area, had the appropriate authorization issued by the local and regional authorities.”
Land Life was accused of causing another fire in the region last month that burned through 20 hectares of land, according to Spanish media.
“It’s not right that they should carry on working when this has already happened once,” the mayor of Bubierca, one of the evacuated villages, told El Heraldo de Aragón.
Land Life says it is committed to helping restore degraded land around the world. According to its website: “Land Life Company was founded on the shared conviction that a business approach and technology can drive innovation to restore nature in our lifetime.”
Two people have died in forest fires that have raged across many parts of Spain, while thousands have been evacuated.
Spain is estimated to have lost almost 200,000 hectares of land to wildfires so far this year – 80,000 of them during last week’s heatwave and the one that preceded it in June.