Forest fire in southern Spain forces mass evacuation | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.06.2017
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Forest fire in southern Spain forces mass evacuation

A forest fire in southern Spain is threatening a well-known nature reserve, with some 1,500 people forced to evacuate the area. The Donana National Park is home to some highly endangered animal species.

More than 1,500 people in southern Spain were evacuated on Sunday as a precautionary measure after flames from a forest fire entered the Donana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its biodiversity.

Many of those evacuated were staying at a campsite in the park, according to the deputy head of the regional environment protection authority.

"The fire has entered the limits of the reserve, and that is where we are focusing our efforts," Jose Gregorio Fiscal Lopez told Spanish national television.

Fires in Spain's Donana National Park (picture-alliance/AP Photo/INFOCA)

Firefighters said they were concentrating their efforts on the Donana National Park

The fire broke out on Saturday night near the town of Moguer on Spain's southern coast, and encroached on the park in the southern region of Andalusia by Sunday morning, Lopez said. Several homes near Moguer were also evacuated.

Threatened species

Emergency services said 10 helicopters, seven planes and four waterbombing planes had been deployed to fight the fire, a job made more difficult by the hot, dry weather and shifting winds.

Donana National Park is home to a wide variety of ecosystems and animals, including the highly endangered Iberian lynx and the Iberian imperial eagle. It is also an important stop for migratory birds traveling between Africa and Europe.

The regional president, Susana Diaz, has said that "the human factor cannot be excluded" as a possible cause of the blaze, which comes as Spain battles a widespread drought.

The Donana fire comes a week after forest fires killed more than 60 people in neighboring Portugal.

tj/sms (AP, AFP)

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