Spain forest flames force evacuation of residents and tourists – BBC News

Media captionAt least 200 firefighters are tackling blazes along the Costa Blanca in Spain

Spanish firefighters are combating a huge forest blaze on the Costa Blanca that has forced the evacuation of thousands of people including tourists.

More than 300 firefighters have been deployed to tackle the flame some 120 km( 75 miles) south-east of Valencia.

Three fires were intentionally started on one of the most wonderful days of the year, emergency authorities have said.

The temperature in some places is 40C, but officials hope breezes that fanned the flames will decrease.

Officials evacuated more than 1,000 people late on Sunday from Javea and the resort of Benitachell.

The fire became more severe on Monday afternoon and moved toward populated areas in Cumbre del Sol, which authorities say they are also evacuating.

‘Stiff upper lip’

“Everyone is coming together”, Jeremy Kenton, a British osteopath working in Javea, told the BBC.

“Evacuation tents are being set up in schools, the fire brigade has come from as far north as Valencia, seaplanes are literally swooping down to the sea and then fly in strange slants towards the mountains to drop water.

“The pilots are simply outstanding, ” he said.

Image copyright Terry EITel6 3/ PA Image caption The wildfire is raging in Javea
Image copyright Michael Edwards Image caption This picture shows how close the flame has come to Cumbre del Sol, south-east of Javea
Image copyright EPA Image caption Tourists took pictures of the fires, this one burning in the Natural Park La Granadella in Benitachell

Although the flame has burnt out where he lives, there are fears it could start up again as the wind comes up in the evening and the planes can no longer drop water.

Javea is populated by an international community of Britons, as well as French, Dutch, Germans, Norwegians, alongside Spanish locals.

The mood is one of “British stiff upper lip” and a “laid-back Spanish attitude”, Mr Kenton says.

Image copyright Michael Edwards Image caption Aircraft flew overhead dropping water as witnesses described the situation as “a warzone”
Image copyright AP Image caption This airplane fell water near Benitachell village

Valencia emergency services head Jose Maria Angel told Spanish radio that he believed three flames that rent through vegetation and destroyed buildings were due to “the hand of human … in a very precise way”.

He told reporters aircraft were dumping water on the region every four minutes. About 65 vehicles were also deployed.

On Friday, the 19 th stage of the Vuelta a Espana, a three-week cycling race, is scheduled to take place in Javea.

In December more than 120 forest flames broke out in northern Spain , some of which officials said may have been started deliberately.

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