Spain wildfire forces thousands to flee homes

  • 09/08/2015
Spanish wildire (AAP)
Spanish wildire (AAP)

A wildfire that officials suspect was deliberately lit has forced the evacuation of nearly 2500 people from their homes in western Spain, local authorities say.

Around 1000 residents were evacuated early on Saturday from the town of Hoyos, a day after another 1400 people were ordered to leave their homes in two other nearby towns, the government of the Extremadura region said in a statement.

"The wind fanned the flames and caused the fire to spread, forcing the evacuation of Hoyos due to the proximity of the blaze and especially the smoke," local Red Cross official Jose Lopez Santana told public radio.

The blaze, which broke out on Thursday in the Sierra de Gata mountain range amid scorching temperatures, has ravaged more than 6500 hectares of land.

Hundreds of firefighters, including a contingent sent from neighbouring Portugal, backed by 16 water-carrying planes and helicopters were battling the wildfire.

Firefighters took residents of a retirement home in Hoyos to a hospital in the nearby town of Coria.

"For families it is very hard not being able to remain at home but saving lives must be our top priority," the head of the regional government, Guillermo Fernandez Vara, told reporters.

The cause of the fire was still undetermined but "everything seems to indicate" arson, he added.

"When a fire is concentrated in a very specific area it is because the hand of man must have played some kind of a role, because it is not hotter and drier in the Sierra de Gata than in the rest of Extremadura," he said.