2017’s first prescribed summit forest fires

The forestry staff from the Cabildo de Gran Canaria have started the prescribed fires season at the summit, this is used as the main method of preventing forest fires. Smoke columns may be visible at different parts of the island and should not cause any worry to the population.

The works began in Las Mesas, above the recreation area, and affected 3 hectares. Five  “Presa” teams from the Ministry of Environment, a total of 18 people, conducted the first controlled fire, which can only be undertaken under certain favourable weather circumstances, such as significant moisture at this time of year near the summits.

Prescribed fires or “technical fires” are necessary to reduce the burden of dry vegetation and the potential virulence of any fire in summer, and is also beneficial for the activation of essential ecological processes. Gran Canaria is a pioneer in this technique and it has in the past instructed teams from Spain’s Emergency Military Unit (UME)

In addition, these fires creates an area that acts as a firewall so that any fire that come from the north is stopped and cannot reach up to the summit or the southern zones. The main firewall clearway starts in Tamadaba and crosses the whole island through Artenara, Cruz de Tejeda, reaches the Los Pechos area and descends towards the Caldera de Los Marteles.

The “Presa” team has been performing clearing and prescribed burnings at La Degollada de Becerra and La Degollada de los Molinos. In addition to dealing with the maintenance of the area of ​​Los Pechos and El Garañón. On the south of the island, work is concentrated in the Sorrueda dam, where teams have cleared 1,5 km of ravine.

The controlled burning will continue on the days that the required conditions are met in terms of temperature, humidity and wind, among other parameters, and will be extended until June if conditions permit. It is a skilled job that requires a high level of accuracy, when burning dry vegetation with flames of between 20 & 50 centimeters high.