CASTELLON province firefighters declared the first major forest blaze of the year to be extinguished on Tuesday morning.

The fire started at Villanueva de Viver on March 23 and incinerated 4,723 hectares in a perimeter of 50 kilometres.

The flames forced the evacuation of 1,600 people living in nine towns: Montan, Montanejos, Fuente la Reina, Torralba del Pinar, Arañuel, Higueras, Pavaas, Villanueva de Viver and Puebla de Arenoso.

The vast majority of the affected area was forest land with no buildings destroyed or people suffering serious injury, barring smoke inhalation suffered by some firefighters at the height of the blaze.

Crews have spent the last ten days cooling down hot areas to ensure flames could not be rekindled by strong gusts of wind.

Experts confirmed on Tuesday that there is now no possibility of the fire being restarted.

The Easter holiday period saw 160 ground staff, 35 fire trucks, and three planes mobilised to ensure no more fires affected the area in addition to potential new incidents in vulnerable spots of Castellon province.

No official cause of the Villanueva blaze has been given but Valencian officials suggested early on that it was down to ‘agricultural malpractice’ as opposed to arson.

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