MADRID, Spain – Two firefighters died as at least 10 forest fires swept across tinder dry landscapes amid soaring summer temperatures across Spain, officials said Sunday.
The pilot of a small firefighting plane died when his aircraft crashed into trees Saturday as he attempted to spray water on the flames and a land-based fireman was later crushed by falling rocks as he worked to help control a blaze, police said.
Many of the fires may have been started intentionally, leading Agriculture Minister, Elena Espinosa, to call for “greater responsibility,” without elaborating.
“Many of our forests now face a difficult road to recovery,” Espinosa told reporters.
Spain is in the grip of its worst drought in over 60 years with many rivers, lakes and reservoirs at less than 20 percent of their capacity.
Temperatures reached 42 Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit), the hottest this year, in several southern regions on Saturday and were likely to stay there for at least one more day the national weather center said.
Some fear Spain see a repeat of the high summer temperatures seen in 2003, when 19,000 people died across Europe.