MADRID (AP) — A wildfire in southern Spain has forced the evacuation of 2,000 people amid fears Thursday’s scorching weather could fuel the blaze. Emergency agencies deployed nearly 1,000 firefighters, military and support teams to fight it.
Authorities raced against time in the dry, hilly region of Andalusia as Spain’s weather service AEMET said the country could be on the verge of a heat wave. Temperatures are expected to reach well over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and get even hotter over the weekend.
The Andalusian forest fire suppression service, Infoca, said the blaze had so far burned 2,150 hectares (5,000 acres) of mountainous terrain. Authorities hoped a change in wind direction on Thursday would help crews fight the blaze.
The blaze injured three firefighters after breaking out on Wednesday amid gusty winds; one suffered severe burns. People were evacuated as a precaution on Wednesday evening from five different locations across Malaga province, with most staying with relatives or in local hotels, officials said.
Crews sought to take advantage of lower temperatures and wetter conditions overnight which saw the flames subside, according to Infoca and the regional government of Andalusia. Seven water-dropping helicopters and a coordination aircraft were on standby.
Spain’s emergency military unit, which is tasked with assisting civilian forces during major incidents, has sent 233 people and more than 80 vehicles to the area, authorities said.
Spain’s worst wildfire last year ravaged the same rugged area inland from the resort town of Marbella. Nearly 10,000 hectares (24,000 acres) burned before the fire was finally extinguished after 46 days. A firefighter died in the blaze.
Scientists say global warming is making events like wildfires and extreme storms more common.
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