Firefighters struggle as forest fire spreads in eastern Spain

Firefighters struggle as forest fire spreads in eastern Spain

30 August 2007

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Spain — Some 400 firefighters were forced to give ground Thursday as a fierce fire in eastern Spain increased in strength, fed by the hot weather and summer winds, local officials told the Spanish media, AFPreports.

The fire, which broke out on Tuesday and by late Wednesday had already burnt up 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of land, had gained in strength overnight, Vincente Rambla, vice president of the Valencia region, toldreporters.

As the flames advanced, officials evacuated 120 residents of the village of Les Useres, close to where the fire broke out and where the blaze was burning mostfiercely.

Local authorities believe the fire was started accidentally by a crew that was repairing an electrical line.

Until now, Spain has escaped the worst of this year’s summer fires across Europe, partly because the weather has been unseasonably fresh and damp for theregion.

The environment ministry announced Wednesday that only 56,350 hectares had been burnt this year, down a full 66 percent on last year. It is also 20 percent lower than the recorded average, and the lowest since statistics were first collected in 1997.

The fiercest years this year were concentrated in the Canary islands at the end of July and the beginning of August.

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