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WILDFIRES

After France and Portugal, Spain battles forest fire

After France and Portugal, Spain was battling a blaze on Saturday that has ravaged bone dry pine forests and is still not under control despite the mobilisation of 20 water-dropping planes and helicopters.

After France and Portugal, Spain battles forest fire
Image of firefighting helicopter battling a wildfire in Spain in 2014. Photo: Curto De La Torre/AFP

Some 300 people were evacuated from villages and camp sites as the fire in Yeste in southeastern Spain burnt more than 1,000 hectares (nearly 4 square miles) in two days, Ana Cuevas, a spokeswoman for the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha, told AFP.

She added that the blaze had still not come under control after firefighters worked all night to try and stop its advance.

The fire, which started on Thursday morning, comes as parts of southern Europe experience a scorching summer, leaving forests and bushland highly vulnerable to blazes.

Neighbouring France battled huge fires near beaches popular with tourists on the Cote d'Azur, forcing the evacuation of 10,000 people.

These came under control on Thursday although authorities remain on high alert.

In Portugal, meanwhile, fires have raged across large areas of tinder-dry forest, cutting off roads in the centre of the country and forcing thousands to flee just a month after blazes that left more than 60 people dead.

WEATHER

Firefighters urge public to avoid Madrid bathing spot after blaze

People have been asked to stay away from the popular San Juan reservoir after a wildfire broke out nearby on Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters urge public to avoid Madrid bathing spot after blaze
Firefighters battle the blaze that broke out near the San Juan reservoir near Madrid on Saturday, July 31st, 2021. (Photo from 112 Comunidad Madrid)

Firefighters said Sunday they had managed to stabilise the blaze overnight but local authorities urged people to stay away from the reservoir, a popular bathing spot for residents of the Spanish capital.

Dozens of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft have been battling the wildfire that broke out on Saturday afternoon near the reservoir, which is about 70 kilometres (40 miles) east of Madrid.

The fire started in the nudist beach area, but strong winds caused it to spread rapidly, Spanish daily El Mundo reported.

The cause of the fire, which scorched an area of 50 hectares, remained unknown, but the Madrid area emergency services said in a tweet that forest rangers had started investigations.

The rangers also confirmed that the vegetation damaged was scrubland and some stone pine trees.

In Italy, meanwhile, more than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, according to Italy’s fire brigade, as fires continued to rage across parts of southern Europe.

Fires have also been ravaging other parts of southern Europe, including Greece and tourist hotspots in southern Turkey, where wildfires have claimed eight lives.

Fanned by soaring temperatures, strong winds and climate change — which experts say increases both the frequency and intensity of such blazes — this year’s fire season has been significantly more destructive than the previous average, EU data shows.

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