Ibiza battles wildfire, evacuates hundreds

27th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Firefighters supported by helicopters fought for a third day Friday to beat off 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.

More than 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of vegetation have been scorched in the brushfire, which broke out near the town of Sant Joan de Labritja in the north of the Mediterranean island.

About 500 firefighters attacked the blaze from the ground and air on Friday, deploying seven civilian and military helicopters and two planes, the government 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 most 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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