Startling videos and images of a huge wildfire that ripped through the heart of Ibiza Town have surfaced across social media.
The fire started Monday in Marina Botafoch at around 1PM, with flames reported as tall as six meters high, urged on by strong winds.
At least five cars were reported as destroyed in the fire, and at least two homes were evacuated while firefighters brought the fire under control. .
— IBANAT (@ibanat_IB) March 6, 2017
The burned area known as Ses Feixes Wetlands is a protected wildlife habitat, and popular with squatters who take up residence in the scrub. It’s also just minutes away from popular Ibiza nightclub Pacha, and surrounded many other large residential and commercial buildings.
Local residents have speculated about the nature of the blaze, with some calling it “suspicious.”
One resident pointed to a 2015 update to the Forestry Act. That amendment, passed by Spain’s Congress of Deputies, allows for the development of homes and businesses on lands destroyed by forest fires, even if they were previously protected.
— Gabri (@gabri744) March 6, 2017
Spanish firefighters have begun building bogus graveyards in barren areas ravaged by fires in order to prevent urban sprawl, citing an obscure law that prevents construction within 500 meters of a cemetery.
Previously, the Forestry Act prevented construction on burned lands for 30 years. The 2015 update shortened this time period to just two years.
The Spanish Forest Firefighters National Association (ANBF) believes the update will rapidly speed up deforestation and damage to ecosystems. 55 percent of wildfires in 2015 were started intentionally by humans, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Right now, article 50 of the Cemetery Law in Spain states graveyards must lie 500 metres away from any “populated areas”, or “houses or buildings used for human accommodation.”
The ANBF is campaigning to change this in the hopes that city councils will automatically reclassify any burned area as a cemetery.
A Change.org petition has also been launched asking to change the law, with more than 400,000 signatures. You can sign that here.