Firefighters in Spain and Germany struggled to contain wildfires on Sunday amid an unusual heat wave in Western Europe for this time of year.
Most of the damage in Spain has been in the northwestern province of Zamora, where more than 61,000 acres have been consumed, regional officials said, while German officials said residents of three villages near Berlin were hit by wildfires on Sunday. were ordered to leave their homes.
Spanish officials said after three days of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity, there was some respite on Sunday morning, with temperatures dropping. This allowed about 650 firefighters, supported by water-dumping aircraft, to establish a perimeter around the fire that started in Zamora’s Sierra de la Culebra. Officials warned that there was still a danger that an unfavorable change in weather could revive the fire that led to the evacuation of 18 villages.
Spain has been on alert for an outbreak of severe wildfires as the country under record temperatures at several points for June engulfed the country. Experts link the unusually warm period for Europe to climate change. Thermometers have soared above 104 degrees in several Spanish cities throughout the week – the temperature typically expected in August.
The lack of rain coupled with strong winds this year has created a fire situation.
The strong winds of 43 mph, coupled with extreme heat, changed course the wrong way, making it very difficult for the crew, officials said.
“The fire was able to cross a 500-metre-wide reservoir and reach the other side, giving you an idea of the difficulties we were facing,” Juan Suarez-Quínos, an official in the Castilla y León region, told Spanish state television TVE.
Officials said the fire in Zamora was started by a lightning storm on Wednesday. High-speed train service from Madrid to the north-west of Spain was cut on Saturday due to the spreading fire. It was restarted on Sunday morning.
Military fire fighting units have been deployed in Jamora, Navara and Leleida.
No casualties were reported, but the flames reached the outskirts of some villages of Jamora and Navra. Videos shot by passengers in cars show flames on the roadside. In other villages, residents watched in despair as black feathers grew from nearby hills.
In central-north Navarra, officials have evacuated some 15 small villages as a precaution, as high temperatures are not expected to drop in the region until Wednesday.
He also asked the farmers to stop using heavy machinery which may inadvertently catch fire.
“The situation remains critical. We have various active fires due to extremely high temperatures and strong winds,” Navarra regional vice president Javier Ramirez told TVE.
Remirez said some villages have seen some buildings on its outskirts damaged.
Officials said some wild animals were pulled from an animal park in Navarra and taken to a bull ring for safekeeping.
Wildfires were also active in three parts of northeastern Catalonia: in Lleida, in Tarragona and in a nature park in Garf, south of Barcelona.
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Firefighters said that 6,600 acres of land in Lalida have been burnt. He said he has responded to more than 200 different wildfires in Catalonia in the past week alone.
In Germany, strong winds are blowing about 30 miles southwest of Berlin, forcing authorities to declare a state of emergency on Saturday.
The villagers of Fraunsdorf, Tiefenbrunnen and Klausdorf were told to immediately seek refuge in a community center in the nearby town of Trauenbrietzen.
“This is not an exercise,” tweeted city officials.
Germany has seen several wildfires in recent days after extreme heat and little rain.
The country’s national weather agency said the mercury rose above 100 degrees at some measurement stations on eastern Sunday.
From the evening onwards, there is a possibility of rain and thundershowers from the west.