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Spain’s 1st major wildfire of the year scorches town, continues burning

Spain’s 1st major wildfire of the year scorches town, continues burning
Drought, climate change, rural depopulation created 'perfect storm' for fire, says Valencia’s president

By Alyssa McMurtry

OVIEDO, Spain (AA)- A wildfire that began Thursday continues to “ferociously devour” a mountainous region around the border of the Spanish regions of Valencia and Aragon, authorities said Saturday.

Officials estimate that around 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) of forest have been scorched in what is Spain’s first major wildfire of the year.

A small village, La Garcaa, has also been destroyed by the flames.

Fortunately, residents were among the more than 1,500 people who were evacuated Thursday and no one has been seriously injured.

“La Garcia is located in a beautiful place, surrounded by mountains and forests,” Mayor Daniel Riera told Spanish daily El Pais.

While around 700 firefighters and 20 aircraft are working to put out the fire, the winds have severely complicated the task.

The fire’s perimeter was more or less controlled by Saturday afternoon but the flames continued raging.

Meanwhile, the forecast for erratic, dry winds late Saturday and Sunday suggests that the battle will last for hours, if not days.

Valencian President Ximo Puig told reporters Saturday the wildfire occurred in “summer-like conditions” even though it was only a few days after the start of spring.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Puig, referring to the drought, climate change and rural depopulation gripping the affected area.

“We need to update the process to prevent forest fires,” he added.

Spain’s meteorological agency said last week the country is officially in a long-term drought. The winter was abnormally warm and the same is expected this spring and summer.

Police are still investigating the cause of the wildfire but government representative Pilar Benabe confirmed that "human factor” was involved.

source: News Feed
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