MADRID (AP) — A wildfire burning out of control in the eastern province of Valencia has become one of the biggest this year in Spain, having already scorched more than 19,000 hectares (47,000 acres) along a 120 kilometer (75-mile) perimeter, authorities said Friday.
Some 35 aircraft have been deployed as the blaze entered its fifth day. Rain boosted hopes the fire could be brought under control on Thursday, but strong winds have made it “very aggressive,” the Valencian regional government’s justice chief said.
Five people remain in hospital after suffering severe burns Wednesday when several passengers tried to jump off a train that stopped and tried to go back amid surrounding flames. The train had inadvertently headed into the fast-spreading wildfire.
Regional government head Ximo Puig has requested a report from firefighting services to clarify why the train was allowed to proceed through the burning area.
This year, wildfires in Spain have burned four times more than they did during the last decade.
Up to early August, 43 large wildfires — those affecting at least 500 hectares (1,235 acres) — were recorded in the Mediterranean country by the Ministry for Ecological transition, while the average in previous years was 11.
The European Forest Fire Information System estimates a burned surface of 284,764 hectares (704,000 acres) in Spain this year. That’s four times higher than the average since records began in 2006.
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