Sep 15, 2021 at 16:07


Forest fires will no longer be like they used to be. They will be increasingly violent and overwhelming by the extinction services. The one in Malaga has been an example. The fire that has ravaged Sierra Bermeja is unprecedented in Andalusia and Spain. It hardly has any antecedents, like the one suffered in Pedrógão (Portugal) four years ago, so its evolution and all the work done to combat it will now be studied in depth to design strategies to deal with those that are probably to come.

These so-called sixth-generation fires no longer depend so much on external factors – such as the wind – to spread, but are capable of finding their own paths, which makes them very erratic and unpredictable.

What’s more, They carry the dangerous phenomenon of pyrocumulus and pyrocumulonimbus into disarray, which are large vertically developing clouds, originated by the fire itself, and which are capable of penetrating the atmosphere at high altitudes. They are formed by warm layers and cold and humid layers, where the embers or incandescent particles float.

If these clouds collapse on the ground, new fires can be generated and, in addition, massive lockdowns of forest firefighters, for which they force the rapid withdrawal of the troops for prevention – as has already happened in the Sierra Bermeja fire -, slowing down and complicating the extinction tasks.

Behind this new type of fire so “hungry”, as defined by the deputy director of Infoca’s regional operational center, Alejandro García, there are various factors, all of them related to the change in social customs, which motivated the population’s diaspora decades ago from rural areas to cities, leaving the countryside unattended.

«What we catalog ‘by generations’ is how factors have been added to generate a fire. The first generation ones are the ones we had at the beginning of the 20th century. With the forest clean, with a large population settled in rural areas, we had a minor lightning fire & mldr; There was practically nothing, fires that were put out almost with their hands, ”explains Juan Sánchez, regional director of the Infoca Plan.

The subsequent years are characterized by the abandonment of the rural environment, as well as the reduction of practices such as cattle ranching or traditional agriculture, to which is added the urbanization of the natural environment.

Back to the field: the solution

The violence and power of these fires, even more voracious when they are confined in areas of such difficult access and with so little room for maneuver such as the Sierra Bermeja environment, lead the regional director of Infoca to affirm, with little hesitation, that “Right now no one is prepared to minimize those risks.”

In fact, the solution should not be based so much on enhancing extinguishing services as on prevention. Due to its enormous destructive capacity and rapid advance, the sixth generation fires they are almost boundless and uncontrollable. Furthermore, climate change and global warming are coming to the aid of these mega-disasters.

What are sixth generation fires, like the one that has devastated Malaga?

«The future to stop and coexist with forest fires, which is something we have to do, is to minimize the continuity of combustible materials and to use the forests again. We have to do mountain agriculture, extensive cattle ranching, have forest use », explains García.

“I know we want to see the trees and we are in a hurry to cut down a tree, but to coexist the mountains we have, which are all anthropized, and for this to be sustainable at the moment we are in, we have to manage the landscape.”

In this sense, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Carmen Crespo has advanced that the fire is extinguished, the Governing Council of the Junta de Andalucía, together with the mayors of the area, will raise a group of experts and a technical committee for “reforestation and subsequent study” from the sierra.

«The field has to be used. There has been a trend where everyone left the rural area and we need people in the rural area, as long as the natural environment is preserved. Extensive livestock, forestry & mldr; all that needs to be encouraged. And, of course, spending resources on firewalls ”, assured Crespo.

It may interest you: Why are there more fires now and are they more dangerous?