Union anger in fire aftermath

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LA NUCIA: Councillor Serafin Lopez and Local Police chief Javier Burrueco inspect the fire zone.

THE blazes which tore through the Costa Blanca threatening hundreds of lives showed the heroism of those who risked their necks to fight the flames. 

Despite local residents’ unwavering support for these brave men and women, the same cannot be said of the regional government, according to the Professional Union of Local Police and Firefighters (SPPLB). It has denounced the ‘lack of coordination’ by the Valencian government, accusing it of leaving police and firefighters at the ‘mercy of corporate greed’ by paying them through outsourced private companies. 

Likening their situation to dogs ‘who eat leftovers from their master,’ the SPPLB also made the astonishing claim that firefighting units had to pay road tolls out of their own pocket when travelling to defend Javea and Benitatxell. 

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Crews were forced to eat bread because of delayed food deliveries while the typical salary is less than €1,000 per month – frozen for more than 10 years – with some guards earning less than 50 cents an hour, said the union. While the union directs its ire at the regional government, there are signs the catastrophic Javea-Benitachell fire was not deliberate, but investigators have few doubts about Bolulla.

Twenty-two firefighting aircraft were needed to extinguish the blaze in heavily wooded and mountainous areas. Three days later high winds meant it spread from Bolulla to Tarbena, then down to Callosa before reaching the outskirts of Jalon in the Marina Alta.

When another blaze was detected in La Nucia on the banks of the River Guadalest, helicopters and men had to be diverted from Bolulla and took almost six hours to control it.

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