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Spain evacuates hundreds over wildfire, strong winds

November 3, 2023

Spanish authorities have ordered the evacuation of hundreds and told thousands more to stay home as strong winds spread a wildfire that broke out in the southeastern Valencia region.

Wildfire in Ador, Valencia, Spain
Authorities in the southeastern Spanish region of Valencia reported the outbreak of a wildfire that has claimed over a thousand hectares of landImage: Lorena Sopena/Europa Press/abaca/picture alliance

Spanish authorities have evacuated at least 800 people from the town of Gandia after a wildfire broke out, officials said on Friday.

The coastal town lies in the southeastern Valencia region.

The wildfire spread quickly due to strong winds as Storm Ciaran smashed into western Europe.

Large areas of the eastern Iberian Peninsula were on high alert for strong winds for the second day in a row.

Spain has suffered a prolonged drought in the past few years, which has contributed to the spread of wildfires.

Smoke from wildfire near town of Palma de Gandia, Valencia, Spain
Strong winds fanned the smoke towards settlements near the city of GandiaImage: Andreu Esteban/Europa Press/abaca/picture alliance

What do we know about the wildfire?

Emergency services said the fire began on Thursday near the village of Montixelvo, which lies southwest of Gandia.

Some 2,5000 residents of the villages Potries and Ador on the outskirts of Gandia were told to stay home as winds propelled smoke toward the settlements.

Authorities estimate that between 1,000 and 1,400 hectares (2,471 to 3459 acres) of land could be affected by the wildfire.

Valencia's regional government has requested help from the Military Emergency Unit (UME), a branch of Spain's armed forces that provides disaster relief.

Valencia's regional emergency service said that the risk of wildfires was "extreme" in most of the hinterland and "high" near the coastal cities of Castello, Valencia and Alicante.

The head of the regional government, Carlos Mazon, said the cause of the fire remained unknown and would be investigated.

Mazon said that there had been gusts of winds traveling at between 110 and 120 kilometers per hour (around 68 and 75 miles per hour), with the speed dropping to 30-40 kilometers per hour by the morning.

sdi/sms (Reuters, AP, EFE)