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Spain’s first major wildfire of the year rages in Valencia region


More than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze that has driven 1,500 residents from their homes.

Spain’s first major wildfire of the year has destroyed more than 30 square kilometers of forest and forced 1,500 residents to leave their homes, authorities said.

The evacuations took place in eastern Valencia on Thursday and Friday, state television RTVE reported, citing officials.

More than 500 firefighters, supported by 18 aircraft and helicopters, worked through the night and on Friday to battle the blaze near the village of Villanueva de Viver.

Emergency services have evacuated eight communities, said Gabriela Bravo, the regional chief of the interior.

Power went out in some areas and at least three roads were closed by authorities.

“We were told to leave as soon as possible. We packed pajamas and that was that,” an elderly woman told RTVE.

“We are all very concerned,” said Miguel Sandalinas, the mayor of Montanejos, a town of about 550 people affected by the

The state weather service AEMET reported that firefighting was hampered by strong winds, low humidity and temperatures above 20°C, relatively high for this time of year.

Smoke rises from a forest fire in Los Calpes, Spain (Lorena Sopena/Reuters)

An unusually dry winter in parts of southern Europe has reduced soil moisture and raised fears of a repeat of 2022, when fires burned 7,850 square kilometers of land in Europe – more than double the annual average of the last 16 years, according to statistics from the European Commission.

“These fires that we are seeing, especially this early in the year, are once again proof of the climate emergency that humanity is experiencing, which is particularly affecting and devastating countries like ours,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at a news conference. In Brussels.

The central government in Madrid will provide funds to extinguish the flames and restore the affected area, he said.

In 2022, the country experienced its worst wildfire year since records began. The European Union’s Copernicus Earth Monitoring program recorded 493 forest fires. According to the European Forest Fire Information System, more than 3,070 square kilometers of land burned.

Environment Minister Teresa Ribera said “fires out of season” are becoming more common.

“Summer is getting longer, it arrives earlier and the availability of water and moisture in the soil is unfortunately decreasing, making us much more vulnerable,” she told reporters in Cadiz.

A report from the European Commission this month found a lack of rain and warmer-than-normal temperatures during the winter, triggering drought warnings for southern Spain, France, Ireland, Britain, northern Italy, Greece and parts of Eastern Europe.

“There is every reason to fear that there will be numerous and widespread events this year as well,” said Lorenzo Ciccarese, a researcher at Rome’s Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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