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Spain battles wildfires while suffering from heat wave

Spain battles wildfires while suffering from heat wave

SARAGOSA, Spain, June 18 (Reuters) – Firefighters battled to control raging wildfires in Spain on Saturday and people sought relief with fans, shade and plenty of water as an unusual heat wave pushed temperatures to record levels.

Spain has been heading for its hottest early summer temperatures in decades, with forecasts ranging from 40-42°C (104-108°F) in Zaragoza in the northeast and the Navarra and La Rioja regions in northern Spain, according to the national weather agency.

Many regions of Western Europe have been sweltering with unusually high temperatures over the past few days, exacerbating fears of climate change. Read more

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In Zaragoza, whose temperature is expected to rise below Spain’s highest temperature of 42 degrees Celsius on Saturday, people at a farmers market waved fans and newspapers, stood in the shade and kept hydrated. By 4 pm, the temperature had reached 40.9 degrees Celsius.

Dry conditions and winds caused wildfires in several regions, and Zamora, near the border with Portugal, was among the worst affected.

A tweet from the regional government of Castile and Leon, where Zamora is located, said nearly 20,000 hectares of land had burned in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range, and the fire remained “active”.

On Saturday afternoon, it said 11 villages had been evacuated and about 500 firefighters were working to put out the flames.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries.

In Catalonia, firefighters trying to control a blaze in Baldomar said they expected Saturday to be “complicated” due to “extremely high temperatures and strong southerly winds”.

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Flames raged in the air on the outskirts of the village of Codel in Castellón, eastern Spain.

Wearing masks, goggles and helmets, the firefighters struggled to control the flames. They helped evacuate residents, some of whom dragged along with their pet dogs and horses, while smoke billowed across the village.

ZARAGOZA SIZES

“This is evidence of climate change,” Bernardo Funes, 63, a farmer in Zaragoza told Reuters. “It’s very concerning because we already have highs of 34 and 35 degrees Celsius in May and now in June, it’s almost 44 degrees.”

Outside the city’s grand cathedral, Marisa Gutierrez was seated under a shaded canopy displaying the lottery tickets she was selling.

“It was very bad with a hot wind that felt like it was coming from the desert,” she told Reuters. “It’s not normal…At this time of year there is usually a mild temperature but not that hot.”

Meanwhile, at a gala party in the city center, the participants, dressed in Roman costume, said that they had to drink as much water as beer.

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(Reporting by Vincent West and Jessica Jones) Editing by Clelia Oziel

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