Wildfire forces evacuation of 2,000 people in eastern Spain
A forest is engulfed in flames during a wildfire in Pedralba, near Valencia, Spain, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Published Monday, September 24, 2012 8:59AM EDT
MADRID, Spain -- Officials say a forest fire fanned by gusting winds has forced the evacuation of some 2,000 people from a handful of small mountain towns in eastern Spain.
More than 500 firefighters and 27 water-carrying airplanes and helicopters were deployed Monday to try to extinguish the fire affecting a mountainous area some 50 kilometres east of the coastal city of Valencia.
Regional Interior Ministry chief Serafin Castellano told Cope radio station that "the main enemy now is climatic conditions."
Enrique Silvestre, mayor of Chulilla, said some 1,400 people from his town and the neighbouring village of Gestalgar were evacuated late Sunday, hours after the blaze started.
More than 1,600 square kilometres of forest and countryside have been burnt in wildfires in Spain this year.