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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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Europe heatwave: 'Extreme risk' Spanish wildfires could spread after 13,500 acres destroyed

The forest fire is spreading through Catalonia.

Smoke rises from the landscape in Catalonia.
Smoke rises from the landscape in Catalonia.
Image: AP/PA Images

MAJOR FOREST FIRES spread across parts of Spain today as a Europe-wide heatwave continues. 

The blaze broke out yesterday afternoon in Torre del Espanol in the northeastern region of Catalonia. As of today, the fires had destroyed more than 13,500 acres, the regional government said.

Some 350 firefighters backed by around 120 soldiers and 15 aerial tanker aircraft were at the scene of the blaze, the worst in Catalonia in the last 20 years.

There is an “extreme risk” that the fire could spread much further, the regional government warned. 

The blaze raged several kilometres from a nuclear plant near the town of Asco, but officials said the site was not at risk since winds were blowing the flames away from it.

“The difficulties are such that we can’t talk about a fire that is under control or in the extinction phase, but rather that we’re at a moment when the blaze is getting bigger,” regional interior minister Miquel Buch told Catalan radio.

Buch said it might have been caused by “an accumulation of manure in a farm that generated enough heat to explode and generate sparks”.

Spain Wildfire Burnt landscape in Tarragona. Source: AP/PA Images

The fire spread quickly due to strong winds and soaring temperatures.

Firefighters said that the heat and the steep terrain have made it hard to reach the flames and have hindered their ability to control the blaze.

“It’s complicated. We won’t get it stabilised today,” regional firefighting chief Manuel Pardo told Spanish public television.

Around 30 people have been evacuated from their homes and five roads have been shut, the regional government said. Many evacuees told Spanish media they fled with just the clothes on their backs.

The charred land includes vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees.

A heatwave has been spreading across Europe in recent days. Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for scorching temperatures early in the European summer, which could send thermometers above 40 degrees in France, Spain and Greece on Thursday and Friday.

In many places, officials are predicting record temperatures for June. 

© – AFP 2019

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