Spanish wildfire burns 4,000 hectares, forces evacuation of 1,500

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A recent wildfire in eastern Spain has burnt around 4,000 hectares of natural landscape and forced 1,500 people to evacuate from their homes.

   The wildfire, began on Thursday between the provinces of Castellon and Teruel, is slowly being brought under control.

   Eight small towns and villages in the surrounding area were evacuated between Thursday and Friday as the fire, which could have been started by crop burning, rapidly spread, helped by strong winds and unseasonably dry conditions.

   Cooler temperature and a lack of wind on Friday night helped some 500 firemen, forestry workers and members of the Emergency Unit of the Spanish Military, to establish a 40-km perimeter around the fire, which continued to burn within that perimeter.

   Teresa Rivera, minister for the ecological transition, said climate change was the underlying cause of the fire. Rivera noted that the region, “traditionally a cool and damp area,” had suffered from changed patterns of “temperature and humidity.”

   “We are starting a fifth year of drought in the Iberian Peninsula: the conditions of water and temperature are not those that have traditionally existed in our country and that explains the greater vulnerability of our natural spaces,” she said.

   The summer of 2022 in Spain was the hottest on record, with over 300,000 hectares of land burnt by wildfires, over three times more than the 84,827 hectares burnt in 2021.

   The State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) forecasts unseasonably hot weather in this area, with temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius up to 30 degrees Celsius by the end of the coming week. 

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