November 10, 2015
The UME (Unidad Militar De Emergencias) has finally finished their 48 hours work quashing the inferno that has hit the Malaga Provice. Having been called out, driven from Valencia for 10 hours before working non stop for another 38 hours against the forces of nature, these boys are the heroes of reining in this tragedy.
Marbella Eye’s Sofie Lyrefelt talked exclusively to three of the military firefighters and heard their story on the recent fires. We have called them Jesus, Angel and David but those are not their real names. They are unable to give their names or to show their faces due to military restrictions but they were happy to tell her about their work in serving and saving the public from harm. It’s these boys that are being called out to help at natural catastrophes or when the state is at great risk. With base in Valencia they work all over the country and world wide, traveling as far as the earth quake in Haiti. These boys know what they are doing and when the alarm for the fire in Costa del Sol rang ,they drove down for 10 hours to begin their work putting out the fire.
The three of them talk about the last two nights over a meal.
Angel: We are specially trained in how to work in these situations. Safety of the public is of utmost importance. What we do, is that we evacuate the the people first and foremost, that is the most important thing.
Sofie: What happens to all the animals in a property. What if they have horses or other farm animals?
Angel: The humans are our number one priority but if you are evacuating your property and cannot take your animals with you, the best thing is to leave the stables and paddocks open. If we come across any animals we try to make sure that any animals are not locked in into stables or such like. Then we go about trying to save the properties. We soak everything around the property. Buildings, garden outhouses and sheds and if there are animals of course we try to save them by hosing their stables. If there are trees planted right next to the property we try to soak them too.
Jesus: People love the shade of a great pine tree next to their house but they never think about the risk of growing such a tree in an area that runs risk of forest fires. A big pine tree right next to the house is always a risk of fire. If you want to feel safer in your environment you should always make sure to have all the smaller dried out bushes and trees removed in the summer. The barer the land is, the less risk of fire. It’s the vast areas of dried out mountain side that flames up in seconds and can cause devastation for so many. Taking the responsibility to clean up your property is a good first step towards being safe from fire.
Sofie: How many casualties were there?
Angel: One. An old man that had decided to return, after being evacuated by the police.
David: Thank god all of the firefighters in Spain are now professional, before there used to be many volunteers working with fighting the fires and then we had a lot more accidents. Now since we are specially trained, we all work according to the safety guidelines and there are no mistakes made. We read the climate, winds and smoke development to assess how to approach the fire. If there is nothing we can do, we will work preventative to surround the fire. It’s a very technical task and takes professionals to do it.
Sofie: Do you know who started this fire?
Jesus: It’s very hard to know who started it but one thing is for certain, 99% of the fires that occur are the act of humans. Whether intentional or not, it’s almost always due to ignorance in nature and “playing with fire”.
The UME boys are now returning to Valencia for a well deserved rest. We hope they don’t have to come back here again!