Spain firefighters working to control blaze that has destroyed 4,000 hectares

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Firefighters said on Saturday they had stopped Spain’s first major wildfire of the year from spreading further through the eastern Valencia region, where it destroyed more than 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) of forest and forced 1,500 residents to abandon their homes.

An unusually dry winter across parts of southern Europe has raised fears of a repeat of 2022, when 785,000 hectares were destroyed - more than double the annual average for the past 16 years, according to European Commission (EC) statistics.


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In Spain, 493 fires destroyed a record 307,000 hectares of land last year, according to the Commission’s European Forest Fire Information System.

More than 500 firefighters supported by 20 planes and helicopters were working to bring the blaze under control near the village of Villanueva de Viver, in the Valencia region, emergency services said on Saturday.

However, they had managed to stop the fire spreading to other areas.

Las Provincias, a regional newspaper, reported police believe that the blaze may have been started by a spark from a machine used to gather brushwood. The Spanish Civil Guard did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

Eight communities were evacuated, said Gabriela Bravo, the regional head of interior affairs.

“On Saturday morning, airplanes will try to stop the fire spreading to other communities,” Bravo told a news conference on Friday night. Spain is experiencing a long-term drought after three years of below-average rainfall.

The weather will be drier and hotter than usual this spring along Spain’s northeastern Mediterranean coast, increasing the risk of wildfires, meteorological agency AEMET told Reuters last week.

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