Disasters & Accidents

Voracious wildfire in Spain’s wolf stronghold calmed by cool weather

Zamora, Spain, Jun 20 (EFE).- The arrival of cool weather in Spain following a sweltering early heatwave has helped to stabilize a wildfire of record-breaking dimensions that ravaged swathes of land in the Sierra de la Culebra, home to one of Europe’s largest populations of wolves.

The blaze has scorched an estimated 300 square kilometers of land, an area comparable to the Maldives, making it the largest wildfire on record in Spain after a 2004 blaze that devoured 297 square kilometers in Huelva province.

Cooler weather moving in from the Atlantic since Sunday has dropped temperatures across Spain following a week-long heatwave that pushed the mercury upwards of 40C (104F) in some regions.

The wildfire in the Sierra de la Culebra, a mountain range in Spain’s Castile and Leon region that backs onto the Portuguese border, remains active but has been brought under control, regional authorities said Monday.

Aerial surveys of the region late Sunday suggested that woodland, including chestnut groves, accounted for half of the land scorched by the blaze. The flames also destroyed around 1,000 bee hives in the region known for its beekeeping culture.

The forests and valleys of the Sierra de la Culebra are home to Spain’s largest population of Iberian wolves and are an important habitat for deer and wild boar.

The fire took hold on June 15 following lightning strikes in the region and prompted the evacuation of 1,250 people from nearby towns and villages.

Driven by soaring temperatures, low humidity and winds of up to 70 kilometers per hour, the blaze spread by Saturday to the Tera valley, where it cut off two tracks on the high speed rail link between Galicia and Madrid, which was reopened on Sunday. EFE


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