Wildfire raging in northeastern Spain

20th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

More than 300 firefighters and soldiers backed by 17 water-dropping aircraft's were battling a wildfire in northeastern Spain.

Madrid – More than 300 firefighters and soldiers backed by 17 water-dropping aircraft were Wednesday battling a wildfire in northeastern Spain that has destroyed some 5,000 hectares, officials said.

Strong winds and scorching temperatures have made the fire, which erupted on Tuesday for unknown reasons inside a military training camp at San Gregorio near Zaragoza, difficult to control, the regional Aragon government said.

Firefighting efforts were complicated by the risk that weapons in the camp could explode from the heat and this was restricting the movement of ground forces, it added in a statement.

The most active front of the wildfire was moving towards the village of Remolinos but the authorities have ruled out the need for an evacuation for the time being.

Temperatures in the region were forecast to reach a high of 40 C (104 F) with winds of up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) an hour.

Between 1 January and 9 August wildfires have ravaged 84,064 hectares of land in Spain, more than during all of last year and the highest amount in the past decade, figures released Wednesday by the environment ministry showed.

More than half of the fire damage this year was in northeastern Spain.

The blazes have claimed eight lives, including six firefighters, since last month.

Last week Greenpeace warned that heat waves and drier land caused by climate change have combined with "land use changes, abandonment of rural areas and a lack of management of forest areas" to make forests "more flammable, leading to ever larger and more uncontrollable fires."

"Forest fires are becoming more intense and out of control in Spain and across southern Europe, as well as in other semi-arid regions such as California and Australia," Miguel Soto, Greenpeace Spain forests campaigner, told reporters before the launch of a report on the issue.

AFP / Expatica

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