Staff Reporter

PALMA
THE Balearics have been put on “extreme alert” for forest fires this weekend, because of the “suffocating heat” brought by a mass of hot air from the north of Africa, environment minister Cristina Narbona announced yesterday.

The alert extends to a large part of the Peninsula, but not the Canary Islands.
Forest fires are a major hazard in the Balearics in the summer, and between January 1 and July 31 some 85.36 hectares of forest were destroyed by fire.

This is 33 percent below the average area burnt during the same period since 1997, which was 127.98 hectares.
So far this year there have been 72 forest fires which affected less than a hectare, a little above the average for the last 10 years, which is 6.
There have been just four fires which have affected more than one hectare in 2007, while the average for between January and July for the last 10 years (since 1997) was 11.

During the last 10 years there have been no extensive fires, which is surprising since fires have affected more than 500 hectares of land.
The great fires which were seen at the beginning of the 90s now seem to be in the past.
The fires at that time devasted extensive areas of Arta, Cala Tuent, Serra de na Burguesa, Andratx, and La Trapa.
In that era, the human and technical resources available for fighting fires were very few in comparison with those existing today.
Determining factors during the last few years for the efficient extinction of forest fires have been not only the rapidity of their detection but also the speed of intervention.

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