Spain is battling wildfires as it smolders in a heatwave

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Spain is heading for the hottest early summer temperatures in decades

ZARAGOZA, Spain — Firefighters struggled to bring raging wildfires under control in Spain on Saturday, June 18, and people sought relief with fans, shade and plenty of water as an unseasonal heatwave pushed temperatures near record highs brought.

Spain was heading for the hottest early summer temperatures in decades, with forecasts of 40 to 42 degrees Celsius (104 to 108 Fahrenheit) in Zaragoza in the northeast and in the areas of Navarre and La Rioja in northern Spain, according to national weather agency AEMET.

Many areas of western Europe have been sweating under unseasonably hot temperatures in recent days, fueling fears of climate change.

In Zaragoza, which is expected to sizzle under Spain‘s highest temperature of 42 degrees Celsius on Saturday, people waved fans and newspapers at a farmers’ market, stood in the shade and kept hydrated. At 4 p.m. the temperature had reached 40.9 degrees Celsius.

Dry and windy conditions have sparked wildfires in several areas, with Zamora, near the border with Portugal, among the worst-hit.

Almost 20,000 hectares of land have been burned in the Sierra de la Culebra and the fire is “still active,” said a tweet from the regional government of Castile and Leon, where Zamora is located.

There were no reports of dead or injured.

In Catalonia, firefighters trying to get a blaze under control in Baldomar said they expected Saturday to be “complicated” by “very high temperatures and a strong southerly wind”.

Flames crackled and raged high into the air on the outskirts of the village of Caudiel in Castellon, eastern Spain.

Firefighters wearing masks, goggles and helmets struggled to control the blaze. They helped evacuate residents, some of whom dragged their dogs and horses, as smoke drifted through the village.

Zaragoza sizzles

“This is evidence of climate change,” Bernardo Funes, 63, a stall owner and organic farmer in Zaragoza, told Reuters. “It’s very concerning because … we already had highs of 34, 35 degrees in May and now it’s about 44 degrees in June.”

In front of the city’s grand cathedral, Marisa Gutierrez sat under a shady canopy displaying the lottery tickets she was selling.

“It was very bad, with a hot wind that felt like it came from the desert,” she told Reuters. “It’s not normal … this time of year it’s usually a comfortable temperature, but not this heat.”

Meanwhile, at a bachelorette party downtown, attendees dressed as Romans said they needed to drink as much water as they did beer. – Rappler.com

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