IN PICS: Wildfire rages in Galicia after spark from high-voltage power line

Firefighting crews aided by lighter winds made progress Wednesday in their battle against a wildfire which broke out in northwestern Spain amid unusually warm weather, officials said.

IN PICS: Wildfire rages in Galicia after spark from high-voltage power line
Photo: El_Batefuegos / Twitter

Hundreds of firefighters and soldiers backed by seven helicopters and five water-dropping planes were fighting the blaze which broke out on Monday near the village of San Xoan de Laino in the northwestern region of Galicia, the regional government said in a statement.

Officials evacuated two schools in the area on Tuesday because of the advancing flames but the blaze was no longer threatening built-up areas, it added.

A spark from a high-voltage power line is the “most probable” cause of the wildfire, which was then fuelled by strong winds, the vice president of the regional government of Galicia, Alfonso Rueda, told local television.

Authorities in Galicia estimate the blaze has so far ravaged around 850 acres (2,100 acres) of land, making it the worst wildfires since deadly blazes hit the region in October 2017.

Firefighters said lighter winds had helped them get the upper hand against the blaze although they cautioned temperatures remained high.   

Temperatures are forecast to hit 29 degrees (84 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday in some parts of Galicia, which is heavily wooded in native oaks and pines and has large areas of imported eucalyptus plantations.

Another three smaller fires were active in other parts of Galicia which had so far destroyed a total of around 140 hectares, including one which affects a national park.

Last month was the second driest February this century in Spain, according to national weather office Aemet.


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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.