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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Spain plans firefighting strategy
Firefighter
The blaze in Guadalajara has been brought under control
The Spanish government is planning a series of measures to prevent forest fires, in the wake of the blaze that left 11 volunteer firefighters dead.

A national co-ordination centre and "severe prohibitions" will be among the steps taken to avoid future tragedies.

The fire, thought to have been started by a barbecue, has destroyed around 12,000 hectares but is under control.

The environmental adviser for the Castilla-La Mancha regional government, Rosario Arevalo, resigned on Thursday.

There has been debate over when the region asked for help in tackling the blaze - Mrs Arevalo giving a contradictory version to that of the regional president.

In neighbouring Portugal, thousands of firefighters are tackling a blaze which resulted in the death of an elderly man.

Funerals

Firefighters and water-dropping aircraft are fighting at least seven fires across Portugal.

Firefighter

Severe drought in both Spain and Portugal has left the Iberian peninsula susceptible to forest fires.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the plan for future firefighting would include: reinforcing communication between authorities; more severe restrictions on lighting fires in the countryside and harsher penalties.

The measures will be discussed by ministers on Friday.

One person faces charges for lighting the barbecue believed to have started the fire in pine woodland at Cueva de los Casares in the central Guadalajara province on Saturday.

Hundreds of family friends and neighbours gathered for the funerals of the 10 men and one woman who died trying to fight the fire as it swept out of control, fanned by strong winds.

Map showing Guadalajara province
The only one of the group of volunteer firefighters to survive is reported to be improving in hospital.

Jesus Abad, 45, who suffered first degree burns and broken ribs, told Spanish national television about his "miraculous escape".

"The hurricane of fire was enormous... I think it saw us and said 'You belong to me'," he said.

He described "a gigantic wave of fire", saying he survived by crawling under a water truck that had crashed and spilled its load.

"You have no oxygen, you see yourself burning, you see yourself... dead," he said. "The will to live saved me, because I think we all have courage."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the devastation left by the forest fire



SEE ALSO:
Iberian misery as drought bites
13 Jun 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Spain
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


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