HUNDREDS of people have been evacuated in the Villaneuva de Viver area of Castellon province due to a major forest fire
Emergency services said 1,500 people in eight towns had been moved, including the occupants of an elderly residents home in Montan.
Shelters have been set up by the Cruz Roja in Onda and Segorbe and a field hospital has been erected, but there are no reports of injuries.
Four helicopters and more than 600 firefighters and soldiers have been tackling the fire, as the army deployed additional support to try to bring the blaze under control.
The regional secretary for Security and Emergencies, Jose Maria Angel, observed that ‘everything points to the fact there had been some agriculture malpractice at some point in the area where the fire started’.
The cause will be investigated by the Guardia Civil and the regional Environmental department.
Valencian president, Ximo Puig, said the blaze had devastated around 3,000 hectares of land since breaking out on Thursday.
“This fire comes very early in the spring and has been very voracious from the beginning,” Puig commented.
The state meteorological agency, Aemet, said that ‘unfavourable weather conditions, especially considering the early date of the year, have favoured the (fire’s) rapid spread.”
Temperatures were above 25 degrees) when the fire broke out, and relative humidity sank below 30% following an unusually dry winter.
The risk of more fires in Castellon province was classified as ‘extreme’ on Friday.
Last summer saw a whole series of serious blazes in the area including one in August centred on Bejis.