Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Spain, Germany fight to contain wildfires amid heatwave

BARCELONA, Spain ( Associated Press) – Firefighters in Spain and Germany on Sunday struggled to contain wildfires amid an unusual heat wave in Western Europe for this time of year.

The worst damage in Spain was in the northwestern province of Zamora where more than 25,000 hectares (61,000 hectares) were consumed, regional authorities said, while German officials said residents of three villages near Berlin had been ordered to leave their homes due to ‘ an impending wildfire Sunday.

Spanish authorities said that after three days of high temperatures, high winds and low humidity, some rest came with falling temperatures on Sunday morning. This allowed about 650 firefighters backed by water jets to establish a perimeter around the fire that originated in Zamora’s Sierra de la Culebra. Authorities warned that there was still a danger that an unfavorable shift in weather could revive the fire that caused the evacuation of 18 villages.

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Spain is on alert for an outbreak of intense wildfires as the country swells below record temperatures at many points in the country for June. Experts link Europe’s abnormally warm period to climate change. Thermometers rose above 40 C (104 F) in many Spanish cities during the week – temperatures usually expected in August.

A lack of rainfall this year along with gusts of wind caused the conditions for the fires.

Authorities said gusts of up to 70 km / h (43 mph) that fluctuated with course combined with temperatures close to 40 ° C made it very difficult for teams.

“The fire was able to cross a reservoir about 500 meters wide and reach the other side, to give you an idea of ​​the problems we were facing,” said Juan Suárez-Quiñones, a Castilla official. y León region, told Spanish state television TVE.

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The fire in Zamora was started on Wednesday by a strike from an electrical storm, authorities said. The scattered fire caused the high-speed train service from Madrid to Spain’s north-west to be cut off on Saturday. It was relocated Sunday morning.

Military fire-fighting units have been deployed in Zamora, Navarre and Lleida.

No reports of lives were lost, but the flames reached the outskirts of some villages in both Zamora and Navarre. Videos shot by passengers in cars show flames leaking on the sides of roads. In other towns, residents despaired as black plumes rose from nearby hills.

In north-central Navarre, authorities have evacuated about 15 small towns as a precaution, as high temperatures in the area are expected to drop only on Wednesday.

They also asked farmers to stop using heavy machinery that could inadvertently cause a fire.

“The situation remains delicate. “We have several active fires due to the extremely high temperatures and high winds,” Navarra regional vice president Javier Remírez told TVE.

Remírez said some towns have seen some buildings damaged on their outskirts.

Some wildlife had to be evacuated from a zoo in Navarre and taken to a bull ring for safekeeping, authorities said.

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Wildfires were also active in three parts of north-eastern Catalonia: in Lleida, in Tarragona and in a nature park in Garaf, just south of Barcelona.

Firefighters said 2,700 acres (6,600 acres) had been scorched in Lleida. They added that in the past week they had responded to more than 200 different wildfires in Catalonia alone.

In Germany, strong winds ignited the flames about 50 kilometers southwest of Berlin, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency on Saturday.

Villagers in Frohnsdorf, Tiefenbrunnen and Klausdorf were told to seek immediate refuge at a community center in the nearby town of Treuenbrietzen.

“This is not an exercise,” city officials tweeted.

Germany has seen numerous veld fires in recent days after a period of intense heat and little rain.

The country’s national weather agency said the mercury reached 38 C (100.4 F) at some measuring station in the east on Sunday.

Thunderstorms were forecast to bring cooler weather from the west from the evening.

Frank Jordans contributed to this report from Berlin.

Nation World News Desk
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