German ‘hippy’ sentenced to prison for deadly island wildfire

The 27-year-old German cave-dweller who ignited a deadly wildfire while burning used toilet paper on a Spanish island has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Scott Verdine Stumpf admitted last year to accidentally starting the August fire while burning used toilet paper — Spanish media outlets reported he had been living in a nearby cave for an extended period of time. In addition to prison, he was ordered to pay the equivalent of about $2 million U.S. dollars in restitution, local media outlets reported.

The wildfire blackened about 5,000 acres and forced hundreds of evacuations on La Palma, a landmass that is part of Spain’s Canary Islands. Francisco Jose Santana, a park ranger and married father of five, died during firefighting operations.

Large wildfire burns homes at Javea, Spain

A large wildfire on Spain’s Mediterranean coast has destroyed structures and forced 1,000 residents and holiday makers to evacuate.

The fire started Sunday in the Javea area, a popular tourist resort at Costa Blanca and was attacked by 300 firefighters and 20 water-dropping aircraft. They had the fire temporarily knocked down, but after sunset when the aircraft were grounded it picked up again. The fire was still active Monday morning.

According to the The Telegraph, the fire was started deliberately in three spots between Javea and Benitachell and has burned approximately 20 homes. The army has been called in to assist firefighters.

map fire Javea Spain
The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite as a wildfire burned near Javea, Spain.
Map Javea fire
This 3-D Map shows the approximate area where the Javea fire burned September 4 and 5, 2016. This is a very rough estimate, based on the satellite data. Click to enlarge.

The fire started on one of the hottest days of the year when the temperature reached 40ºC (104ºF).

Many people have posted information on Twitter about the fire, including BBC media personality Chris Stark, who sounds like the actor Hugh Grant in a couple of videos he has uploaded about the fire. Apparently he was on holiday in the area. We can’t embed Twitter videos, but you can see them here. For a while he thought that perhaps his apartment and car had burned, but at the last report they were spared.

Chris Stark
Chris Stark. A screenshot from one of his videos posted Monday morning, U.S. time.

The video below is a drive through a residential area in which the fire burned.

Wildland firefighters in Spain strike as fires burn

It was only a few days ago that we told you about some wildland firefighters in Spain, the BRIF (reinforcement brigade forest fire). Now they are on strike.

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Local:

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“Over 800 people were evacuated from the villages of Ca l’Esteve, El Bosc Gran and Monserrat Parc in Ódena near Barcelona, after wildfires broke out over the weekend.

At least 1,000 hectares of vegetation have been destroyed by the fire, which broke out on Sunday afternoon. While the fire continues to rage, firefighters have stabilized the perimeter ensuring the flames did not expand further overnight, according to the Spanish Huffington Post.

The evacuated residents were spread out over neighbouring villages, where they souht refuge overnight in a basketball arena and a library, quickly set up to accommodate them.

To make matters worse, firefighters from Spain’s forest firefightingservice (BRIF) began an indefinite strike on Monday in protest against working conditions and low pay. It is the first time such a strike has taken place while wildfires sweep vast areas of Spain, the association of forest firefighters, Atbrif, said in a statement on its website.

“Is it fair that we make such a ridiculously paltry amount while we put our lives at risk?” the firefighters’ association said.

The association is meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Madrid on Monday.”

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Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Karen.

Spain’s BRIF

A wildland firefighter in Spain told us about this video featuring the BRIF (reinforcement brigade forest fire). It covers their training and shows the firefighters working on fires.

The unit is celebrating their 21st anniversary after being created by former members of hotshot crews in 1994. Since then it has grown into 10 bases staffed by 600 firefighters.

In 2012 we had another video about this organization that impressed us with their skill in using flappers to suppress brush fires.

Wildfire in Spain

A person with the handle of @carlesdumont has been tweeting information today about a fire that we believe is in the Catalonia region of Spain. (I hope the pictures are visible below.) Google translated the person’s Twitter description as, “Prevention and suppression of forest fires; Palamos & Playa Del Carmen”.

A warning was issued for boats to give a wide birth to the water scooping air tankers working the fire.

 

 

 

A video report, in Spanish, of a fire in Spain has some interesting visuals.

A prescribed fire team in Spain

The video below features teams of bomberos (firefighters) in Spain who conduct prescribed fires and educate local residents about fire prevention. Their organization is called Equipos de Prevención Integral de Incendios Forestales (EPRIF), or Integrated Forest Fire Prevention Team.

It is interesting to see how firefighters in another part of the world accomplish the same tasks as those in North America, but with a different twist. We thank them for making the English language version of this video.

SPANISH Prescribed Burn Team – EPRIF from Madrid on Vimeo.