Palma.—Hailed as heroes by many, both local fire brigades and the Forestry Commission and the pilots of the helicopters and aircraft which have spent weeks water bombing and fighting wild fires across Majorca were yesterday able to stand down temporarily.

Despite the region remaining on a very high level of alert for forest fires as the heat waves continue and the hot African winds waft across the island, many of the fire fighters who for the past two weeks have hardly stopped work, were able to relax and take stock of what has been going on.

A few brigades remained at the site of the Capdepera fire which broke out on Sunday and destroyed 13.5 hectares of wood and scrub land to make sure it is fully extinguished, while elsewhere, all the other minor fires which broke out on Wednesday, were out or under control and, as of 6pm, for the first time in the past few weeks, no new fires had been reported.

Both the Capdepera blaze and the one which broke out in Capdella on Saturday led to scores of people being evacuated from their homes, but fortunately no serious damage to properties was caused by the blazes.

But, so stretched were the emergency services - at one point members of the army's emergency unit were flown in from the mainland as was a special plane to help water bomb the Capdepera blaze which broke out in more or less exactly the same place and on the same day as last year.

Now, there appears to be a lull or a reprieve for the fire services, the local authorities, in particular the Guardia Civil, have set about trying to identify and locate those responsible for many of the fires.

The local governments and security services have made it clear that many of the recent fires were caused intentionally and the government, both here in Palma and in Madrid, has vowed to throw the book at any one caught and convicted.

The Local government is even considering changing legislation so arsonists will receive even stiffer punishments if caught.
The other debate raging is that central government has apparently reduced the amount of funding for the fight against forest fires this year as part of its austerity measures.

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