Firefighters battled high winds on Monday as a huge wildfire in southeastern Spain burned out of control while another blaze stabilized in the north, officials said on Saturday.
Both fires broke out late Saturday, with more than 350 firefighters deployed to battle the wildfire in the northern region of Aragon, which has so far devastated 6,000 hectares and displaced at least 1,500 people from their homes.
But as they managed to calm the fire in Aragon after successfully preventing it from entering a protected nature area, the wildfire continued to spread across the southeastern region of Valencia.
Hundreds of firefighters, supported by 25 planes and helicopters, battled the blaze in Vall de Ebo, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the coastal town of Benidorm.
So far, more than 6,500 hectares of land have been destroyed and more than 1,200 people have fled their homes, with firefighting made difficult by strong winds in inaccessible terrain, the regional administration said.
“It’s a very complex fire and a very complicated terrain. We evacuated more than 1,000 people yesterday, and last night we had to evacuate 70 or 80 more homes,” regional emergency chief Jose Maria Angel told Cadena SER Radio, saying the perimeter of the fire was “increasingly increasing”.
Officials at the Aragon fire had feared the flames could reach the Moncayo nature reserve, some 80 kilometers west of Zaragoza, but this had been successfully repelled and officials on Monday said the situation had “developed favourably”.
With winds expected to ease later in the day after a blustery weekend, civil defense officials said they were hopeful the stabilizing fire could persuade the 1,500 evacuees to return home.
So far this year Spain has suffered 390 wildfires, fueled by scorching temperatures and drought conditions, which have destroyed a total of 265,467 hectares of land, according to the latest figures from the European Forest Fire Information System.
Scientists say human-caused climate change is making extreme weather events like heat waves and droughts more frequent and intense. They, in turn, increase the risk of fires that release climate-warming greenhouse gases.
Fires have broken out across Europe, including in France, Greece and Portugal, making 2022 a record year for wildfires on the continent.
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