Firefighters battle major wildfire in SpainBy Phoebe French
Authorities are battling a wildfire in Catalonia in northeastern Spain, deemed to be the region’s “worst in 20 years”, with the blaze having spread over 16,000 acres of land threatening vineyards in the area.
The fire is located between the towns of La Torre de l’Espanyol and Vinebre in the province of Tarragona.
Early reports suggest that high temperatures had caused a manure pile at a local farm to generate enough heat to create sparks, with strong winds helping the flames to take hold.
The blaze was believed to have started on the afternoon of Wednesday (26 June), with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees celsius.
Authorities have stated that the area affected by the fire could increase to 20,000 hectares (over 49,000 acres).
Regional interior minister Miquel Buch told Catalan radio: “The difficulties are such that we can’t talk about a fire that is under control or in the extinction phase, but rather that we’re at a moment when the blaze is getting bigger.”
He said it was thought the fire was caused by “an accumulation of manure in a farm that generated enough heat to explode and generate sparks”.
Around 50 people have been evacuated from their homes with five roads shut in the area. Vineyards, fruit orchards and olive grows are reported to have been destroyed or damaged.
the drinks business has contacted the region’s DOs for comment on the extent of the damage.
It comes as much of Europe records record summer temperatures, with temperatures of over 40 degrees celsius recorded in parts of France, Spain and Italy.
Predicted temperatures in France prompted weather service Météo France to raise the heatwave alert level from orange to red for the first time in the southern departments of Herault, Gard, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhone.
This is the first time since the warning system was established in 2004 that regions have been issued with such a warning.