• Extinction work Pedro Sánchez, in the fire of Castellón: "It is not possible to be neutral in the face of the denial of the climate emergency"

A strong wind has rekindled on Monday night the flames of the first major forest fire of the year in Spain, complicating the work of firefighters despite the drop in temperatures.

The fire has already destroyed some 4,300 hectares since last Thursday, mostly forest, and has forced 1,800 people to leave their homes.

More than 500 firefighters are battling the flames, which were declared near the town of Villanueva de Viver, where the temperature, unbecoming of the time of year, approached 30º on Friday.

Three villages with a total of about 80 inhabitants - Higueras, Pavias and Torralba del Pinar - were the last to be evacuated on Monday, according to emergency services.

In total, 23 planes and helicopters have been mobilized. Yesterday, temperatures dropped again to 19ºC, but a strong wind of up to 70 kilometers per hour has rekindled the flames, according to the authorities.

"We have to be careful because the fire is still very active," Gabriela Bravo, regional head of Interior of the Valencian Community, told the press. "Our main enemy is climate. It doesn't help at all, the wind has activated the fire," he added.

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, visited the affected area yesterday.

"We have just come out of winter and we are already facing the typical summer fires and this is clearly due to the climate emergency facing the world," Sanchez said.

So far, 14 firefighters have suffered minor injuries while battling the flames. According to authorities, Spain's fire season, which until recently was limited to summer, now runs from spring to autumn. The country is going through a prolonged drought, after three years of below-average rainfall.

In 2022, the worst year for forest fires in Europe, Spain was the continent's worst-hit country, with nearly 500 fires burning more than 300,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (Effis).

Climate change is exacerbating droughts, creating ideal conditions for wildfires to spiral out of control and inflict unprecedented material and environmental damage.

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  • Fire
  • Castellón (Spain)