More firefighting planes for the Balearics.

14-10-2017Archive

Between 2018 and 2020 the regional government is to spend 7.2 million euros on increasing the number of helicopters and planes it has at its disposal for tackling forest fires. This investment will represent an extension of a plan for 2016 to 2018 and will mean the addition of five fire-extinguishing helicopters and four planes for water-bombing or coordination/surveillance.

Three of the helicopters will be for Majorca and there will be one each for Minorca and Ibiza. They will all have a capacity of 900 litres of water. Two of the planes will be for Ibiza, the third for Majorca and, while the observation plane will be based in Majorca, it will serve all the islands and be capable of operating for more than four hours.

In total over the 2018-2020 period, the government is contracting 2,200 hours of helicopter time, 810 hours of plane firefighting time and 800 hours of coordination and surveillance.

Meanwhile, the national government's environment ministry is to extend the campaign against forest fires because of continuing high temperatures and drought. The capacity for fighting fires in October has been doubled compared with normal. Operations of various Canadair planes, Kamov helicopter water-bombers, forest fire brigades and transport helicopters are being maintained. These are all potentially at the assistance of regional governments if they are required.

The ministry says that more than 100,000 hectares were affected by fire between January and September. This makes 2017 the third worst year since 2007 both in terms of the amount of land that caught fire and the number of what are classified as large forest fires (more than 500 hectares). The worst year of all was 2012 when more than 215,000 hectares were burned. Over the first nine months of this year there were 22 large fires. In 2012 there were 41 and in 2009 there were 35.

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