Spain, Germany battle wildfires

Spain, Germany battle wildfires

Barcelona (Spain): Firefighters in Spain and Germany struggled to contain wildfires on Sunday amid an unusual heat wave in Western Europe for this time of year.

The worst damage in Spain has been in the northwest province of Zamora where over 25,000 hectares have been consumed, regional authorities said, while German officials said that residents of three villages near Berlin were ordered to leave their homes because of an approaching wildfire on Sunday.

Spanish authorities said that after three days of high temperatures, high winds and low humidity, some respite came with dropping temperatures Sunday morning.

That allowed for about 650 firefighters supported by water-dumping aircraft to establish a perimeter around the fire that started in Zamora's Sierra de la Culebra.

Authorities warned there was still danger that an unfavourable shift in weather could revive the blaze that caused the evacuation of 18 villages.

Spain has been on alert for an outbreak of intense wildfires as the country swelters under record temperatures at many points in the country for June.

Experts link the abnormally hot period for Europe to climate change. Thermometers have risen above 40 degrees Celsius in many Spanish cities throughout the week temperatures usually expected in August.

A lack of rainfall this year combined with gusting winds have produced the conditions for the fires.

Authorities said that gusting winds of up 70 kph that changed course erratically, combined with temperatures near 40 degrees Celsius, made it very tough for crews.

In Germany, strong winds have been fanning the blaze about 50 kilometres southwest of Berlin, prompting officials to declare an emergency on Saturday.

Villagers in Frohnsdorf, Tiefenbrunnen and Klausdorf were told to immediately seek shelter at a community centre in the nearby town of Treuenbrietzen.

This is not a drill, town officials tweeted.

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