Madrid, Aug 15: About 1,500 people had to be evacuated from a cluster of towns in northeast Spain Sunday due to a raging forest fire.
The Aragon region emergency services believes thousands of hectares were destroyed. Regional president Javier Lamban said the rapid spread due to high winds meant the situation is “critical.”
The winds were also shifting rapidly, making the fire more difficult to control. Three hundred firefighters were engaged in the battle to put down the blaze.
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Flames near the village of Anon de Moncayo, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) west of the northeastern Spanish city of Zaragoza, spread fast across towns in the rural area that includes a nature reserve due to strong winds, one firefighter told national broadcaster RTVE.
The local forest chief said the fire began Saturday and quickly spread over a 50-kilometer (31-mile) area in under 24 hours.
At least eight villages had to be evacuated. Three sports centers in nearby towns housed those who were evacuated to safety.
Frest fires affect other parts of Spain
Near Murcia in the southeast, firefighters were also engaged to put down a forest fire amid gusty winds.
This year has been the most devastating year for forest fires in Spain since the country began keeping records in 2006.
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The European Earth observation system Copernicus has measured more than 260,000 hectares (642.5 acres) burning in nearly 400 fires over the course of 2022.
The European Forest Fire Information System said Spain is the European country most affected by forest fires this year. The fires have been exacerbated by drought conditions and extreme heat.
Where else in Europe are there fires?
France, Greece and Portugal have also seen wildfires this season.
Like in Spain, in Southern France, 1,000 people had to evacuate overnight but elsewhere in the country, rains helped bring fires under control. A historic drought and a series of heatwaves have made the situation with forest fires especially difficult.
On Saturday, police said entry to most forests in the Bas-Rhin region on the German border would be limited to residents to reduce the risk of fire at a precarious time.