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First major forest fire in Spain

Summer hasn't even really started yet – and Spain is already battling the first major forest fires. Around 180 people had to be evacuated in the holiday province of Alicante. Strong winds make extinguishing work difficult.

The first major forest fire of the year in Spain has already destroyed almost 600 hectares of nature on the Costa Blanca in the east of the country after just one day. Around 180 people were evacuated from their homes in the affected mountain region around the municipality of Tàrbena in the holiday province of Alicante as a precaution, reports the TV station RTVE, citing the authorities.

The fire broke out on Sunday and has spread quickly since then. The fires are being fought by 15 fire departments and ten forest protection units, among others. A total of eight helicopters and firefighting aircraft will also be used, said a spokesman for the regional government of Valencia. The work has so far been made more difficult by strong winds and the heat of over 25 degrees in the shade, which is unusual for mid-April.

A helicopter picks up water from a pool. This will then be dropped over the forest fire near Tàrbena.

Authorities suspect slash-and-burn agriculture

Authorities believe the fires were deliberately set. A representative of the Madrid central government said it was suspected that it was a case of slash-and-burn agriculture. So when fires are set to create areas for fields and plantations.

The region is exceptionally hot and dry for this time of year, with strong winds. This also makes work more difficult for the firefighters, according to a spokesman for the regional administration of Valencia. However, they are optimistic that this and several smaller fires on the Costa Blanca will soon be able to be extinguished.

After several days with temperatures sometimes reaching up to 30 degrees, which in some cases made the beaches full, cooler weather is expected in Alicante and throughout Spain from Wednesday.

Spain has been battling forest fires for years

Serious forest fires continue to rage in Spain. In 2022 alone, around 300,000 hectares of land were destroyed by more than 500 fires.

Last year there were around 91,000 hectares of burned area. Almost 12,000 hectares have burned so far this year.

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