Firefighters in southern Spain look to the skies for much-needed rain they hope can help extinguish a huge wildfire that devastated 7,700 hectares (19,000 acres) in five days and killed about 2,600 people. have been displaced from their homes.
Officials are describing the fire in the Sierra Bermeja, a mountain range in Málaga province, as a sixth-generation fire, an extreme type of fire brought on by the planet’s changing climate. “Mega fires” are catastrophic events that kill large areas, darken and are difficult to prevent.
In Spain, this is combined with the increasing dynamics of population reduction in rural areas, leading to poor management of forests and accumulation of burnable material.
“We are facing the most complex fires known by forestry extinction services in recent years,” Juan Sanchez, director of the southern Andalusia region’s fire prevention service, told reporters late Sunday.
The affected area has doubled since Saturday, when officials said the flames were within a radius of about 40 kilometers (25 miles). An amber cloud soon headed for a new fire hot spot, triggering a new wildfire that eventually joined the previous fires, experts said on Sunday. By Monday morning, the circumference had reached 85 kilometers (about 50 miles).
Spain’s weather agency, AEMET, had predicted rain in the area for later Monday, but it was unclear whether the rain would be enough to douse the flames.
About 500 firefighters were working in shifts on the ground, assisted by 50 water drop aircraft and helicopters from the air. He was joined by 260 members of a military emergency unit on Sunday. A 44-year-old firefighter died on Thursday while trying to douse the fire.
Altogether around 2,600 residents have been relocated. Most of those evacuated from parts of the resort town of Estepona were able to return home by Monday, but 1,700 people were displaced from six villages and lived in other towns, including a pavilion in the city of Ronda.
Climate scientists say there is little doubt that climate change is driving more extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and hurricanes, from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.
In Spain, official data showed that the country has experienced fewer fires this year than the average for the past decade, but the number of large wildfires – affecting more than 500 hectares (1,200 acres) The ones – was 19 in the first eight. Months of 2021 compared to an average of 14 for the same period since 2011.
Data from the Ministry of Ecological Transitions showed that more shrub and forest area has been burned: 75,000 hectares (186,000 acres) as of 5 September, compared to an average of 71,000 hectares in previous years.
Follow all AP stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-change . Feather