Spain battles wildfires as it swelters in heatwave

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MADRID, June 18 (Reuters) – Firefighters battled to bring raging wildfires under control in several parts of Spain on Saturday amid dry and windy conditions, as a heatwave pushed temperatures close to record highs.

Spain was heading towards its hottest early summer temperatures in decades on Saturday, with forecasts of between 40-42 degrees Celsius (104-108 Fahrenheit) in Zaragoza in the northeast and areas of Navarre and La Rioja in northern Spain, according to national weather agency AEMET.

Many areas of Western Europe have been sweltering under unseasonably hot temperatures over the past few days, compounding climate change fears.

In Spain, Zamora, near the border with Portugal, and Catalonia, in the east, were among the worst hit by wildfires.

There have been no reports of deaths or injuries.

Tourists take a rest in downtown Cordoba, Spain, . The State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) activated the orange alert for high temperatures in the provinces of Cordoba and Jaen and yellow in the regions of Seville, Granada and Almeria. EPA-EFE/SALAS

“It’s been a hard night and intense work,” said a tweet from the regional government of Castile and Leon, where Zamora is located.

It said almost 20,000 hectares of land had been burned in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range and the fire was “still active”.

In Catalonia, firefighters who were trying to bring a fire under control in Baldomar said they expected Saturday to be “complicated” by “very high temperatures and a strong southerly wind”.

Flames crackled and raged high into the air on the outskirts of the village of Caudiel, in Castellon, eastern Spain.

Firefighters, wearing masks, goggles and helmets, struggled to bring the fires under control. They helped evacuate residents, some of whom dragged along their pet dogs and horses, as smoke wafted through the village.

In Toledo, south west of Madrid, the Puy du Fou theme park evacuated over 3,000 people on Friday as the fires got close to its perimeter.

Reporting by Jessica Jones; editing by Clelia Oziel

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