Spain in the grip of devastating forest fires

by Lorraine Williamson
Forest fires in Spain
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PROVINCIA DE ZAMORA – The high temperatures, locally reaching well above 40ºC, have led to the outbreak of forest fires throughout Spain. Near the Portuguese border, it led to the evacuation of eleven entire villages. 

Forest fires Spain

@INFOCYL

In the Sierra de la Culebra in the province of Zamora rages the most virulent fire of all. This fire has already destroyed more than 25,000 hectares and is already one of the most serious forest fires in Spain of this century and bigger than the largest of last year. It was registered in Navalacruz in Avila, and was the worst fire in the history of Castilla y León. 

Saturday was a black day in Zamora due to the destruction of more than 10,000 hectares of forest in 24 hours. Furthermore, the flames threatened 14 cities. The fire was able to do its devastating job because of an accumulation of circumstances. Moreover, a dry thunderstorm with hardly any precipitation and many lightning strikes ignited the fire. Added to this were temperatures of more than 40ºC, low humidity, and strong winds.

Like many other European countries, Spain has been dealing with unusually warm weather in the past week. This early heat wave follows a very dry month of May. 

According to the regional government of Castile and León, the fire in the Sierra de la Culebra is still active. Five hundred firefighters are at work fighting the blaze. So far, no deaths or injuries have been reported. 

Catalonia 

In Catalonia, firefighters tried to bring a blaze under control on Saturday in Baldomar, a small town between Barcelona and Zaragoza. The fire service expected that it would be a “complicated” operation due to the “very high temperatures and strong southerly wind”. Furthermore, 30 simultaneous wildfires are raging in the northeastern Spanish region. The most important of these affect the municipality of Artesa de Segre in Lleida. Here, the flames that have not yet stabilised or controlled have already destroyed more than 2,000 hectares. There is also a fire in Olivella, in Barcelona, ​​​​with two urbanisations where people have to stay indoors as a precaution because of the smoke development. 

The fire in Artesa de Segre, which erupted last Wednesday, has so far set fire to 2,146 hectares. Two fires are active in Lleida province. One at Lladrus which was very concerning for its potential. This fire was stabilised after 50 hectares were destroyed. Fortunately, firefighters prevented the fire from progressing to a forest of 50,000 hectares. 

Aragon 

The worst weather conditions in Aragon were also worrying. Here a fire raged after breaking out in a fruit plot in the province of Zaragoza near Nonaspe.

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Navarra 

Two other fires, at Leire and Tafalla, are technically considered extinguished. Even so, the high temperatures continue to pose a risk of reactivation. 

Last Saturday afternoon, about 2,500 visitors who were in the Sendaviva Natural Park in Arguedas were evicted “as a precaution” given the proximity of a forest fire in the Bardenas Reales Park, in southern Navarra. 

Castellon 

On the outskirts of the village of Caudiel, in Castellon, firefighters struggled to control the high flames as they evacuated residents and pets. 

Extremadura 

According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Extremadura, a forest fire has been declared in the municipality of Hervás in recent hours in Cáceres and its evolution has been unfavourable. The flames hit an area of ​​oak forests that is difficult to access and has a high ecological value. 

Andalucia 

In Andalucia, the forest firefighting service Infoca has declared extinguished the two forest fires that had broken out in the area ‘Finca de Lima’ in Almonaster la Real and in ‘El Rabiche’ in Rosal de la Frontera, both in the province of Huelva. Together, flames there destroyed an area of ​​about 11 hectares. 

Basque Country 

In the Basque Country, a fire broke out in the Aralar Park on Saturday. Here, a 10-hectare area of ​​Mount Arrastortz in Gipuzkoa Province was destroyed. The fire broke out around 11 am on Saturday in a very steep area known as Aitzarte. Furthermore, this is an area made up of rocks and mostly covered with shrubs, grasslands, and trees. The steepness of the terrain made firefighting difficult. That work was limited to the areas that the firefighters could reach to protect the farms in the area. 

Extreme weather due to climate change 

Recent extreme weather has been linked to climate change. The drier conditions caused by global warming also make wildfires more difficult to control, as they spread more easily and burn more intensely. 

Extreme risk of forest fire 

on Monday According to the weather institute Aemet, there is still an extreme risk of forest fires for half of the Spanish mainland. It concerns almost the entire eastern half of the Iberian Peninsula and the interior of Mallorca and Menorca. 

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