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Firefighters in Spain battle wildfires across the country

A firefighter tackles a wildfire in the Sierra de la Culebra in Spain’s Zamora province (Emilio Fraile/Europa Press/AP)
A firefighter tackles a wildfire in the Sierra de la Culebra in Spain’s Zamora province (Emilio Fraile/Europa Press/AP)

Firefighters in Spain are struggling to contain wildfires in several parts of the country, which is suffering a heatwave unusual for this time of the year.

The worst damage has been in the north-west province of Zamora where more than 61,000 acres (25,000 hectares) have been consumed, regional authorities said.

The blaze that started in Zamora’s Sierra de la Culebra has forced the evacuation of at least 10 villages, although the drop in temperatures overnight on Saturday helped efforts somewhat.

More than 500 firefighters are being supported by water-dumping planes and helicopters in the sparsely populated area.

Authorities have been on alert for an outbreak of intense wildfires, with Spain sweltering under record temperatures at many points in the country for June.

Experts have lined the abnormally hot period for Europe to climate change.

Thermometers have risen above 40C (104F) in many Spanish cities throughout the week – temperatures usually expected in August.

A lack of rain this year combined with gusting winds have produced the conditions for the fires.

Spain Wildfire
Firefighters battle a wildfire in the Sierra de la Culebra in Spain’s Zamora province (Emilio Fraile/Europa Press/AP)

The spreading blaze caused the high-speed train service from Madrid to Spain’s north-west to be cancelled on Saturday. It was reinstated on Sunday morning.

Military firefighting units have been deployed in Zamora, Navarra and Lleida.

There have been no reports of lives lost, but the flames reached the outskirts of some villages both in Zamora and in central Navarra.

Videos shot by passengers in cars showed flames licking the sides of roads. In other villages, residents looked on in despair as black plumes rose from nearby hills.

In central Navarra, authorities have evacuated some 15 small villages as a precaution, as the high temperatures are not expected to drop until Wednesday.

They also asked farmers to stop using heavy machinery that could unintentionally spark a fire.

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

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