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Spain battles wildfires as heatwave persists

Emergency services battled several wildfires Thursday as Spain remained in the grip of an exceptional heatwave that has seen temperatures reach 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Farenheit).

fire heatwave spain
Several wildfires are raging across Spain as June temperatures soar way above normal for this time of year. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)

The most alarming blaze, near Baldomar in Catalonia, has already destroyed 500 hectares of forest but could spread to over 20,000, the government in the northwestern region said.

No-one has been evacuated yet but the Catalan authorities have cordoned off several residential areas as a precaution.

In Lerida province, where Baldomar is located, temperatures reached 41C on Thursday.

Spanish meteorologial office AEMET also forecast temperatures above 40C in Badajoz in the southwest and Zaragoza in the northeast.

Two other wildfires were raging in Catalonia on Thursday morning, in Lerida and Tarragona provinces, and had destroyed nearly 300 hectares, the Catalan authorities said.

Another was burning in the Sierra de la Culebra mountains in Zamora, central Spain.

In the northern province of Navarra, firefighters brought two forest fires under control during Wednesday night, regional emergency services said.

The six-day-old heatwave, exceptional in Spain for this time of year, has affected the entire country and is forecast to last until Saturday, AEMET said.

Spain recorded its hottest May since the start of the 21st century and has seen four extreme temperature episodes in less than a year.

In neighbouring Portugal, last month was the hottest May since 1931.

Heatwaves have become more prevalent due to climate change, scientists say.

As global temperatures rise over time, heatwaves are predicted to become more frequent and intense, and their impacts more widespread.

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WILDFIRES

Spain battles northwest wildfires

Spanish firefighters on Saturday struggled to contain wildfires that have ravaged large tracts in the northwest, as a third summer heat wave grips the country.

Spain battles northwest wildfires

Firefighters were battling six blazes in Galicia that have scorched nearly 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres).

Some 700 people have been evacuated from the area around Boiro, where a blaze broke out on Thursday, according to regional officials.

But no casualties have been reported so far.

“The situation remains complicated. Helicopters are not enough to control all of the homes,” the mayor of neighbouring A Pobra do Caraminal, Xose Lois Pinero, wrote on Facebook.

Near the town of Verin, by the border with Portugal, authorities were managing to contain a fire that started Wednesday and is suspected to have been arson, Galicia government said.

Temperatures hit a 40.9 degrees Celsius (105.62 Fahrenheit) high on Thursday, according to the national weather agency. They have eased since, but were expected to remain around 35C across much of the country on Saturday.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is making extreme weather events including heatwaves and droughts more frequent and more intense. They in turn increase the risk of fires, which emit climate heating greenhouse
gases.

Spain has faced 366 wildfires since the start of the year, fuelled by scorching temperatures and drought conditions.

The flames have destroyed more than 233,000 hectares, more than in any other nation in Europe, according to the European Union’s satellite monitoring service EFFIS.

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