The flames are not calming down in eastern Spain. A strong wind rekindled the country’s first major forest fire of the year on Monday evening, complicating the work of firefighters despite lower temperatures.
The fire has ravaged some 4,300 hectares since Thursday, mainly forest, and forced 1,800 people to flee their homes. More than 500 firefighters are fighting the fire, which broke out near the village of Villanueva de Viver, in the province of Castellon, where the unusual temperature for the season approached 30°C on Friday.
Fourteen firefighters slightly injured
Three villages with a total of some 80 inhabitants – Higueras, Pavias and Torralba del Pinar – were the last to be evacuated on Monday, according to the emergency services. Twenty-three water bomber planes and helicopters were mobilized before nightfall.
Temperatures dropped to 19°C on Monday, but a strong wind reaching up to 70 km/ha revived the flames, authorities said. “We have to be careful because the fire remains very active,” said Gabriela Bravo, regional head of interior affairs for the Valencia region. “Our main enemy was the weather. She didn’t help at all, the wind ignited” the fire, she added. Fourteen firefighters were slightly injured battling the flames.
The Prime Minister warns of the “climate emergency”
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited the affected region. “We are just emerging from winter and we are already dealing with typical summer fires and this is clearly due to the climate emergency the world is facing,” he said.
Authorities believe that the fire season in Spain, until recently limited to summer, now runs from spring to autumn. The country is also experiencing a long drought, after three years of below-average rainfall.