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FIRE

Wildfires rage across northern Spain in Asturias, Cantabria and Basque Country

Firefighters were battling close to 100 separate forest fires across the northern region of Asturias on Monday morning as strong winds and dry conditions helped the fires spread.

Wildfires rage across northern Spain in Asturias, Cantabria and Basque Country
Flames in Vibaño, near Llanes (Asturias). Photo: Vidal @viditocho.

Emergency military firefighter troops have also been called in to aid the already 200 firefighters trying to bring the blazes under control.

Fires were reported in some 30 of the 78 municipalities in the northern region with the worst outbreaks reported in Narcea, Somiedo, Tineo and Allande.

Unseasonably low rainfall has left the forests dry and vulnerable to wildfires but the blazes are mostly affecting rural areas.

Several power lines have been affected by the fires, cutting the supply to small pockets in rural areas of Asturias and some secondary roads have been closed due to the proximity of flames.

The fires were being fed by strong southerly winds, with gusts of up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour, and unusually warm temperatures for this time of the year, local officials said. No injuries were reported.   

Temperatures hit 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday in Gijon, the largest city in Asturias, according to national weather office Aemet.

All of Asturias faced either an “very high” or “extreme” risk of wildfires on Monday, the region's government said.   

The president of the regional government of Cantabria, Miguel Angel Revilla, urged locals to be vigilant, warning that Tuesday's forecast was for more “very strong winds” from the south.

Spain is prone to wildfires in summer, especially in the more arid southern regions and along its Mediterranean coastline.   

But such incidents are unusual in winter, especially in rainier northern regions such as Asturias and Cantabria.

Around 20 wildfires were also reported to be burning in neighbouring Cantabria and the Basque Country.

 

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WEATHER

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.

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