HomeWorld NewsSpain battles forest fires as it swelters in heatwave

Spain battles forest fires as it swelters in heatwave

ZARAGOZA, Spain, June 18 (Reuters) – Firefighters battled to bring raging wildfires under control in Spain on Saturday and people sought help with fans, shade and plenty of water as an unusual heat wave pushed temperatures to record highs.

Spain was heading for its hottest early summer temperatures in decades, with forecasts of 40-42 degrees Celsius (104-108 Fahrenheit) in Zaragoza in the northeast and parts of Navarre and La Rioja in northern Spain, according to national weather agency AEMET.

Many parts of Western Europe have been sweltered by abnormally hot temperatures over the past few days, heightening fears over climate change. Read more

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In Zaragoza, which is expected to sizzle in Spain’s highest temperature of 42C on Saturday, people at a farmers’ market waved fans and newspapers, stood in the shade and kept themselves hydrated. By 4 p.m., the temperature had reached 40.9°C.

Dry and windy conditions caused forest fires in several areas, Zamora, near the border with Portugal, among the most affected.

Nearly 20,000 hectares of land had been burned in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range and the fire was “still active”, said a tweet from the regional government of Castile and Leon, where Zamora is located.

On Saturday afternoon, he said 11 villages had been evacuated and some 500 firefighters were working to put out the flames.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries.

In Catalonia, firefighters trying to control a blaze in Baldomar said they expected Saturday to be “complicated” by “very high temperatures and a strong southerly wind”.

Flames crackled and raged high in the air on the outskirts of the village of Caudiel, in Castellon, eastern Spain.

Firefighters, wearing masks, goggles and helmets, struggled to control the flames. They helped evacuate residents, some of whom dragged their pet dogs and horses, as smoke wafted through the village.


“This is proof of climate change,” Bernardo Funes, 63, an organic merchant and farmer in Zaragoza, told Reuters. “It’s very worrying because…we’ve had highs of 34, 35 degrees in May before and now in June it’s something like 44 degrees.”

Outside the city’s grand cathedral, Marisa Gutierrez sat under a shaded awning displaying the lottery tickets she was selling.

“It was very bad, with a hot wind that seemed to come from the desert,” she told Reuters. “It’s not normal…at this time of year there is usually a pleasant temperature but not this heat.”

Meanwhile, at a bachelor party in the city center, attendees, dressed as Romans, said they should drink as much water as beer.

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Reporting by Vincent West and Jessica Jones; edited by Clelia Oziel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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