Crews battled a forest fire on 12 March 2006 that charred 1,200 hectares of land and forced the evacuation of 200 people in the Valencia region of easternSpain, an area known as Les Foies en Simat de la Valldigna near Gandia. The firestarted on Friday and seems to be advancing towards at least five neighbouring municipalities thanks to the highwinds.
Gusting winds and dry weather were making matters considerably worse for those fighting the flames,as the high winds at times reached 90 km an hour, creating giant strips of flame that at times were over five metres inheight. Currently, some 1,500 hectares have been burned and over 100 peopleevacuated, as yesterday the air support that was helping the firefighters on the ground had to be called off due to the intensity of the smoke.
The aircraft and helicopters resumed their tasks at first light today. Last night the fire was advancing towards the towns ofXeresa, Xeraco, Gandia and Barx, whilst Villalonga and Bellreguard that are situated some seven kilometres from the base of the fire, were also affected with smoke being seen in Cocentaina some 40 kilometresdistant.