Major fire in Spain forces evacuation of 1,500 people

MADHEPURA: A major wildfire in northeast Spain spread rapidly overnight and spiraled out of control on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of eight villages and 1,500 people in Zaragoza province, firefighters said . The head of the local government of Aragon, Javier Lamban, said on Sunday that the situation was critical in the town of Añon de Moncayo and that the priority of the 300 firefighters fighting the fire was to protect human lives and villages.

The wildfire, which started on Saturday, developed a perimeter of 50 kilometers (31 miles) in less than 24 hours, the local chief forester said. It is estimated that the burned area could reach 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres), state news agency EFE reported. Those who fled took refuge in three different sports centers in nearby towns.

Firefighters said the outlook for taming the blaze depended on the weather, but gusty winds of up to 60 kilometers (37 mph) were forecast.

Drought and extremely high temperatures in the Mediterranean country make 2022 the worst year of the century in terms of fires. So far this year, Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry has recorded 43 large forest fires, which are those that have burned at least 500 hectares (1,250 acres). This is four times the amount of the previous year and a record for the last decade.

The European Forest Fire Information System says 248,674 hectares (615,000 acres) have burned in forest fires so far this year in Spain. That’s nearly four times the country’s annual average of 66,965 hectares (165,000 acres) since 2006, when the records began.