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Firefighters battle Spanish wildfire

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Copy of iol news pic Spain Wildfire~6

AP

A Civil Guard inspects the zone burnt by fire in the small town of Aras, near to Logrono city, northern Spain , Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. Wildfire ravaged over 8,000 hectares in central Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Torneros de la Balderia -

Firefighters battled a heat-fuelled wildfire in northern Spain Wednesday that has already ravaged 10 000 hectares (25 000 acres) of land, local emergency services said.

About 600 firefighters, police and volunteers were working to put out the blaze which erupted on Sunday near the town of Castrocontigo in the province of Leon, emergency services said in a statement.

“At the moment there is no risk to the local population,” it added.

“Even though the fire is stabilised, the difficult weather conditions due to a pocket of hot air from the Sahara located over the Iberian Peninsula can cause a change in the fire's evolution at any moment.”

Twenty-six helicopters and water-dropping planes were taking part in the effort to put out the blaze which raged amid temperatures that soared up to 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the state weather office.

“This is a catastrophe, a tragedy,” said Juan Vicente, the president of the regional government of Castilla y Leon, of which the province of Leon is part.

Local authorities suspect the wildfire was deliberately set.

“The arsonist knew exactly what he was doing, he took into account wind direction, the heat, the time and even the day,” said Roberto Gonzalez, the environmental agent for the Leon branch of the UGT union.

Spain's interior ministry warned Friday of a high risk of wildfires across most of the country over the coming days due to the arrival of scorching temperatures and the dry state of fields and forests after a year with little rainfall.

Wildfires have ravaged a total of 139 886 hectares of land this year up to August 12, three times the amount during the same time last year, according to Spanish government figures. - Sapa-AFP


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