The 2023 high-risk forest fire campaign has ended with a very positive balance in Mallorca and the rest of the Balearic Islands. During this period, which runs from 1 May to 15 October, there have been a total of 43 incidents and only 2.8 hectares (ha) affected throughout the archipelago. In this regard, the councillor for Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Environment Joan Simonet said that “this is the lowest figure in the entire historical series in terms of area burned and one of the best years in terms of the number of fires”. However, he called for prudence, prevention and a great deal of caution: “We cannot be overconfident. The risk of fire exists all year round,” he stressed.

If we analyse the data from 1 January 2023 to the present day, the Fire Fighting Operation (OIF) of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment, together with the other bodies that make up the Special Emergency Plan for the Risk of Forest Fires (INFOBAL), has worked to extinguish 83 forest fires (78 of which have been outbreaks), with 19.5 ha affected. Since the start of 2023, by island, in Mallorca there have been a total of two fires and 52 outbreaks, with a total of 11.5 ha affected. On Ibiza there have been three fires and 17 outbreaks, which have burned 7.9 ha. In Menorca and Formentera no fires had to be dealt with, as there were only four outbreaks in Menorca and five in Formentera. On these two islands, the area affected was 0.03 ha each.

By municipalities, the most affected in terms of recurrence of fires were Sant Josep de sa Talaia (six fires), Sant Joan de Labritja (five fires), Santa Margalida (five fires) and Andratx (five fires). In terms of surface area, the only fires with more than 1 ha burnt were in Deià (Es Murterà, 21st April); Eivissa (Ses Feixes, 5th April); Pollença (La Rafal, 16th April); and Santa Eulària des Riu (Aigües Blanques, 26th March).

incendios mallorca 2023

Causes of fires

In terms of causes, the accumulated fires in 2023 were mainly caused by negligence and accidents (48%), followed by intentional fires (25%). Natural causes (lightning) accounted for 14% of the total. It should be emphasised that negligence is mainly caused by smokers, badly extinguished or uncontrolled agroforestry burns, motors and machines or power lines, among others.

These causes are in line with the average for the last few decades, according to the official statistics available. The Environment Agents of the Regional Ministry, in collaboration with the agents of the Seprona of the Guardia Civil, are in charge of investigating the causes of forest fires.

It should be noted that during the campaign a significant number of days have been declared Fire Alert 4 (very high and extreme risk of forest fire, according to the State Meteorological Agency), so that on these days authorisations for the use of fire and all activities likely to generate a forest fire have been suspended.