MADRID: More than 1,000 people have been evacuated after a wildfire fuelled by intense heat roared through brush surrounding a popular tourist resort on Spain’s Costa Blanca, officials said today.
Some 300 firefighters backed 20 water-dropping aircraft were battling the blaze which broke out Sunday near the Mediterranean resort of Javea, a local emergency services official said. Officials suspect the fire was started deliberately.
Officials evacuated over 1,000 people late on Sunday from Javea and the resort of Benitatxell near Benidorm, popular with British and German tourists, due to the threat from the flames.
They were put up in schools. Residents of Javea also offered to put up evacuees for the night and gave them food and water, Javea city councillor Maria del Pilar Zamora told private television Antena 3.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed flames raging near built up areas. Several homes were completely destroyed by the fire, according to Antena 3.
Among those who posted photos of the blaze was BBC host Chris Stark who was on vacation in the area.
“This is crazy. I think my car and maybe my apartment is on fire,” he Tweeted on Sunday. He sent another tweet on Monday saying he was safe.
Firefighters said the blaze was fuelled by scorching temperatures and low humidity levels.
Most of Spain faced an “extreme risk” of wildfires on Monday due to the heat, with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius in some parts.
Spain routinely suffers wildfires during the hot summer months but there have been fewer large blazes in 2016 than in recent years.
There were just 13 wildfires that destroyed over 500 hectares of land between January 1 and August 28, according to a tally kept by the agriculture ministry.