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Wildfire rages in northeastern Spain as European heatwave continues

Firefighters worked overnight to control the blaze near the Ebro River.

Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire in Palma d’Ebre, near Tarragona, in Spain (Jordi Borras/AP)
Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire in Palma d’Ebre, near Tarragona, in Spain (Jordi Borras/AP)

Hundreds of firefighters were struggling to contain a wildfire in northeastern Spain that has spread over 5,500 hectares (13,590 acres) and forced the evacuation of 53 residents.

A Spanish military unit with 120 specialists joined local firefighters who had worked overnight to control the blaze that sent thick plumes of smoke over hilly terrain near the Ebro River.

The fire comes amid a heatwave that is boosting temperatures across Europe.

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Smoke rises from the burned landscape after a wildfire in Torre de l’Espanyol, near Tarragona, in Spain (Jordi Borras/AP)

Miquel Buch, the regional interior minister, said 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) were under threat in what was the worst fire in the Catalonia region in two decades.

Mr Buch said authorities suspected the cause of the outbreak was a deposit of improperly stored chicken manure at a farm in the village of Torre de l’Espanyol which high temperatures caused to combust.

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A burned farm tractor lays destroyed after wildfire swept through Torre de l’Espanyol (Jordi Borras/AP)

Television images showed horses and sheep incinerated on a farm that had stood in the path of the fire.

Five roads were closed to traffic in the rural area which is about 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Barcelona.

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Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire in Palma d’Ebre, near Tarragona (Jordi Borras/AP)

Large parts of western and central Europe were sweltering in scorching weather, as authorities warned temperatures could top 40C (104F) in parts of the continent over coming days as a plume of dry, hot air moves north from Africa.

Firefighters said that temperatures over 30C (86F), low humidity, and high winds had fanned the wildfire flames.

PA

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