MADRID (AP) — A wildfire in southern Spain forced the evacuation of 2,000 people amid fears that torrid weather on Thursday may feed the blaze. Emergency agencies deployed almost 1,000 firefighters, military personnel and support crews to fight it.
Authorities raced against the clock in the dry, hilly area of Andalucia as Spain’s AEMET weather service said the country could be on the verge of a heat wave. Temperatures were forecast to reach well over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and get even hotter over the weekend.
The Andalucian Forest Fire Extinction Service, Infoca, said the fire had burned 2,150 hectares (5,000 acres) of mountain terrain so far. Authorities were hoping that a change in wind direction on Thursday will help crews fight the fire.
The blaze injured three firefighters after it broke out Wednesday amid gusting winds; one suffered severe burns. People were evacuated as a precaution late Wednesday from five different locations across the province of Malaga, with most sheltering with relatives or in local hotels, officials said.
Crews sought to take advantage of lower temperatures and more humid conditions overnight that saw the flames quiet down, according to Infoca and the Andalucia regional government. Seven water-dropping helicopters and a coordinating plane were on standby.
Spain’s Emergency Military Unit, which is assigned to help civilian forces with major incidents, sent 233 personnel and more than 80 vehicles to the area, authorities said.
Spain’s worst wildfire last year ravaged the same rugged area inland from the coastal resort town of Marbella. Nearly 10,000 hectares (24,000 acres) burned before the fire was finally put out after 46 days. One firefighter died in the blaze.
Scientists say global warming is making events like wildfires and extreme storms more common.
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