By Humphrey Carter
MAJORCA fire and emergency services were battling the first major forest fire of the summer yesterday evening.
The fire in the municipality of Capdepera was reported shortly before 1.30pm after the blaze was spotted in woodland between Talaya de Canyamel and Sa Font de Sa Cala, near Canyamel golf club. At 7pm yesterday, Balearic environment sources said that initial estimates point to some 70 hectares having been destroyed by the fire, which was still not under full control. The alarm was raised by the Balearic Nature Institute forest fire spotters at 1.25 pm and within just ten minutes an environment ministry helicopter was at the scene dumping thousands of litres of water on the flames. Shortly after, fire fighters from Arta, Manacor and Felanitx reached the scene and set about tackling the blaze on the ground while a Canadair forest fire fighter seaplane, two smaller land-load fire fighter planes and two more helicopters, one from Minorca, joined the fight in the skies. The helicopters, to save time, were refilling their water tanks from nearby private swimming pools.
The Balearic Environment Minister Jaume Font visited the scene yesterday evening to see for himself the extent of the damage and the work being carried out by the emergency services. The fire fighters were split up into six brigades of six firemen on the ground. Two special 4x4 pick-up fire trucks were also being used to help enable fire fighters to get deep into the woods and to the heart of the blaze. The cause of the fire was unknown last night and the fire services and police were keeping all their options open.
Arson was not being ruled out and firemen will remain at the scene over night to monitor the situation. The Balearics has been on forest fire alert for the past few weeks with extra aircraft having been put on stand-by as part of the annual anti-fire operation from this week. The Canadair based at the Puerto Pollensa air force base is one of fourteen special planes being used to fight forest fires across the country this year.

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