Madrid: Officials said that hundreds of firefighters battled Spain’s first significant forest blaze of the year on Friday. This has forced more than 1,500 people from their homes.
Even though it was boiling, firefighters claimed the blaze was more typical for the summer than the spring.
It started just after noon (1200 GMT) Thursday near Villanueva de Viver (90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Valencia) and has been raging ever since.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stated that “we are unfortunately facing the biggest fire of the year” during a visit to Brussels.
He said that such fires occurring so early in the year is just another sign of humanity’s climate emergency.
The Valencian regional government stated on Twitter that 450 firefighters were deployed with 22 aerial units to tackle the fire.
Aitana Mas, a regional government spokesperson, stated that 1,500 people had been evacuated from eight localities. She also said the fire had destroyed over 3,000 hectares (7.400 acres) within a 30-kilometre radius.
Manolo Nic, the spokesperson for Castellon firefighters, said they were facing a more typical summer fire.
He said that conditions were “perfect for such an event” because the vegetation has been dried out from a lack of moisture in the atmosphere over the past months, and large amounts of combustible biomass are in the forests.
Montanejos is the area most at risk. This village is known for its natural springs and pools, and its hotels had to be evacuated because of high visitor numbers, Miguel Sandalinas, Montanejos’ mayor, told RNE.
Sandalinas stated that temperatures will rise to 30° Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) today. He blamed climate change for the heat he described as “in the middle of March”, which he said was July-like.
Nicolas stated that strong winds would make it harder to extinguish the fire, and firefighters warned about the additional difficulties they could face.
According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), Spain was the most affected country in 2022. It had nearly 500 wildfires that claimed more than 300,000.