Evacuation orders lifted as Spain wildfire stabilised
MADRID, Aug 22, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Firefighters managed to stabilise Sunday a wildfire that has ravaged vast swathes of land in eastern Spain, allowing officials to lift all remaining evacuation orders.
The blaze, which started on Monday near Bejis in the eastern Valencia region, has destroyed over 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of land and spurred the evacuation of around 2,200 people.
Reconnaissance flights on Sunday showed it "no longer had any active fronts"¨and can be considered "stabilised", regional interior minister Gabriela Bravo told reporters.
Firefighters said reduced winds, cooler overnight temperatures and higher humidity levels had allowed them to contain the blaze.
But Bravo cautioned that temperatures were still forecast to be high on Monday, with strong winds that could rekindle the blaze.
Earlier on Sunday Valencia regional president Ximo Puig said all remaining evacuees could return to their homes.
"Now is the time to return to normality, with caution," he said.
Local officials had on Saturday already lifted evacuation orders in two villages, Bejis and Toras, because the threat from the flames had diminished.
About 20 aircraft were deployed to battle the blaze on Sunday, compared to 42 the day before.
Another major wildfire which broke out last Saturday some 200 kilometres (125 miles) further south in the Vall de Ebo was brought under control on Sunday, Puig said.
It has ravaged some 12,000 hectares of woods, bushes and farmland.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will visit fire damage on Monday with Puig, the premier's office said in a statement.
The blazes are among the almost 400 to have broken out in Spain so far this year amid a series of punishing heatwaves and long dry spells that have devastated more than 283,000 hectares of land, more than three times the total area destroyed in 2021.
Areas of neighbouring Portugal have likewise suffered devastation.