Heatwave continues to fuel wildfires in Spain

by IANS |

Madrid, June 18 (IANS) An early summer heatwave continues to fuel a series of wildfires in northern Spain as the mercury has touched 42 degrees Celsius in most parts of the country.

Flames have destroyed almost 13,000 hectares of forests and scrubland over the past three days, including 9,000 hectares in Sierra de la Culebra hills in the province of Zamora, sources with the local rescue service said.

A fire caused by lightning strike on Wednesday night has led to the evacuation of 650 people from their homes in six towns in Zamora, reports Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, rescue services have also reported fire in the communities of Catalonia, Navarra and Aragon.

Three more fires in Catalonia have so far destroyed 2,000 hectares of forests. The Catalan fire brigade warns that high temperature and strong winds may still devastate the situation.

At least 1,200 hectares of woodland have been destroyed close to the city of Zaragoza in Aragon, where a fire began on Thursday and spread quickly amid high winds during the night.

The Community of Navarre, which borders Castile-Leon and Aragon, has also lost 500 hectares of woodland in fire. The regional government said the fire is under control, but the flames are yet to be extinguished.

The wildfires were attributed to the worst early summer heatwave to hit Spain in over two decades which has lasted for a week and is expected to continue until at least Sunday.

Eleven out of Spain's 17 autonomous communities are on orange alert for high temperatures.

Reservoirs are at an average 48 per cent of capacity, 10 per cent down from the 2021 level and 20 perc ent lower than the average for the last 10 years.

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