Spain wildfire triggers more evacuations

Spanish authorities ordered the evacuation Sunday of around 40 homes as a raging wildfire advanced in the centre of the country and temperatures soared.

Spain wildfire triggers more evacuations
An aircraft drops water over a wildfire in the outskirts of Cenicientos. Photo: AFP

Police ordered residents to flee their homes outside the town of Cadalso de los Vidrios some 80 kilometres southwest of Madrid at dawn as the flames approached, emergency services said.

“We are helping people to evacuate their homes. You can't do anything else. I feel very helpless,” Cadalso de los Vidrios mayor Veronica Munoz told private television Telemadrid.

Local officials on Saturday evacuated some 200 people from a campsite in the town.

Some 350 firefighters and soldiers backed by 14 water-dropping aircraft were battling the wildfire that started Friday evening in the central town of Almorox.

Firefighters said that temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius, low humidity, and high winds exacerbated the flames.

Officials said another blaze near the city of Toledo some 60 kilometres away which forced the evacuation of 22 residents had been brought under control on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a major blaze in the northeastern region of Catalonia “could be controlled by this evening,” the regional government said in a statement, adding that it would “take days” to fully extinguish it.

The fires come as Europe is hit by a major heatwave, with temperatures in some parts of France reaching record highs.

Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for scorching temperatures early in the European summer, but the heatwave is forecast to die down from Sunday.

READ ALSO: France, Spain to get reprieve from heatwave but Germany swelters on

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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.