Spain — A RAGING inferno in the Turia nature reserve near Valencia has forced emergency services to evacuate 400 villas and wiped out 31 hectares of land.
It is believed to have started near the sewage plant in neighbouring Paterna, close to the river Turia basin and the Vallesa del Mandor woodland, at around 14.00hrs yesterday (Saturday).
One of the firefighters tackling the blaze was rushed to hospital with second-degree facial burns, but he was later discharged.
High winds in the area fanned the flames, causing them to spread in the direction of the urbanisations Valencia la Vella and Masía de Traver, causing widespread panic among residents when they saw clouds of smoke just outside their windows.
They were forced to flee their homes, but it is believed they were able to return late yesterday evening.
Three fire brigade helicopters, 10 firefighters, members of the Armed Forces with two military helicopters and nine members of the local forestry brigade acted very quickly, and it was largely due to their prompt actions that the flames were safely contained by around 20.15hrs last night.
They are continuing to monitor the situation in case the fire flares up again after lying dormant for a day or two, particularly given the unseasonal heat for the time of year temperatures of between 37ºC and 39ºC have been reported in parts of the region during the hottest part of the day, and in the mornings and late evenings, up to 30ºC.
Further south, the provinces of Córdoba and Sevilla are on red-alert over steamy climates which have struck this weekend taking the mercury up to 40ºC in the shade.