Ibiza battles biggest wildfire in its history

27th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Firefighters fought from the ground and by air Friday on the third day of a battle against the biggest wildfire in the history of Spain's holiday island of Ibiza, the authorities said.

After an all-night battle waged by fire crews, helped by increased humidity and calmer winds, the blaze was "active but more stable," the regional government of the Balearic Islands said in a statement.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 hectares (3,700 and 5,000 acres) of vegetation had been scorched in the brushfire, which broke out near the town of Sant Joan de Labritja in the north of the Mediterranean island, it said.

About 500 firefighters attacked the blaze from the ground and air on Friday, deploying seven helicopters and about a dozen planes, the government statement said.

As a safety measure, the island authorities have now evacuated a total 300 people including 200 guests relocated from the Paradise Beach hotel in the northeastern resort of Portinatx, it said.

A power cut blacked out 1,800 homes during the night, but electricity had been restored to all but 300 by mid-morning.

Police said they detained a 50-year-old Spanish national of Argentine origin Thursday on suspicion of starting the fire accidentally with a smoker he was using on a beehive.

He faced charges of negligence. "A spark fell at the moment that the fire started," a police spokesman said.

Beekeepers use smokers to pacify bees and protect themselves from getting stung.

© 2011 AFP

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