A massive forest fire broke out on Thursday in the province of Castellon in eastern Spain. As of Friday, more than 1,500 people had been evacuated from the fire. Firefighters said they had the fire under control on Saturday.
Spain falls victim to massive fires every year. This fire indicates that the season has started early.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez promised full support to those who had fled their homes.
“We’re looking at the first major fire, unfortunately, this year,” he said. “And it is also taking place out of season.”
Local officials said the fire had engulfed around 4,000 hectares of land since it broke out on Thursday, forcing residents into shelters operated by the Red Cross and other charities. Its cause was not immediately clear.
Ximo Puig, the president of the Valencia region that incorporates Castellon, told reporters the fire was “very early in the spring, very voracious from the beginning.”
Puig added that the effects of climate change “are undeniable, so the perspective of firefighting must be considered on an annual basis.”
Planes trying to put out the fire.
More than 500 firefighters, supported by 20 planes and helicopters, were working to contain the fire, which broke out near the village of Villanueva de Viver in the Valencia region, emergency services crews said on Saturday.
However, they managed to prevent the fire from spreading to other areas.
The risk of more fires in Castellon was classified as “extreme” on Friday.
Miguel Sandalinas, the mayor of one of the villages affected, said that fallen trees left over from winter and the general lack of care for dried vegetation had given the fire “a lot of ammunition.”
In 2022, wildfires burned through 306,555 hectares of land in Spain, an area almost four times the size of New York City, according to European Union data. Last year was also Spain’s hottest since records began.
Despite all these reports, it is not possible to prepare for forest fires in advance.