Spain evacuates 2,000 people in Andalucia as authorities tackle wildfire

A fire rages in the hills near Pujerra, southern Spain Thursday, June 9, 2022.
A fire rages in the hills near Pujerra, southern Spain Thursday, June 9, 2022.   -  Copyright  Alex Zea, Europa Press via AP
By AP  with Euronews

The blaze injured three firefighters after it broke out Wednesday amid gusting winds.

Around 2,000 people have been evacuated in southern Spain amid fears that warm weather will stoke wildfires.

Emergency agencies have deployed almost 1,000 firefighters, military personnel and support crews to fight a blaze in the region of Andalucia.

The operation comes as Spain’s AEMET weather service said the country could be on the verge of a heat wave. Temperatures were forecast to reach well above 30°C over the weekend.

The Andalucian Forest Fire Extinction Service (Infoca) said the fire had so far burned 2,150 hectares of mountain terrain and authorities were hoping that a change in wind direction on Thursday would help emergency crews.

The blaze had already injured three firefighters after it broke out on Wednesday amid gusting winds. One person suffered severe burns to 25% of their body.

People were evacuated as a precaution from five different locations across the province of Malaga, with most sheltering with relatives or in local hotels, officials said.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has expressed his "support and solidarity with the affected residents" on Twitter.

Spain’s Emergency Military Unit, which is assigned to help civilian forces with major incidents, sent 233 personnel and more than 80 vehicles to the area, authorities said.

Crews sought to take advantage of lower temperatures and more humid conditions overnight that saw the flames quiet down, according to Infoca and the Andalucia regional government.

Seven water-dropping helicopters and a coordinating plane were on standby, as rugged terrain made it difficult to access the fire.

Spain’s worst wildfire last year ravaged nearly 10,000 hectares in the same area, inland from the coastal resort town of Marbella. One firefighter died in the blaze, which was finally put out after 46 days.

Scientists say global warming is making events like wildfires and extreme storms more common.

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