A major fire in eastern Spain has been blazing for three days. Dry summerlike conditions are making extinguishing the fire a challenge.Hundreds of firefighters were trying to bring a major forest fire in eastern Spain under control on Saturday, officials said.

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More than 500 firefighters have been deployed as the fire — which began Thursday — raged in Spain's eastern Castellon province. Around 20 helicopters and firefighting planes have also been deployed.

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Emergency services said the fire had intensified near the village of Villanueva de Viver, forcing more than 1,500 residents to flee their homes since the fire began.

They described the fire as being a "highly complex blaze taking place in weather conditions similar to those of the summer."

With a perimeter of about 35 kilometers (22 miles), the blaze has burned more than 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of forest.

What's the latest?

The fire is not spreading to other areas, but has yet to be extinguished, Ximo Puig, leader of the Valencia region, which incorporates Castellon, told reporters.

While the cause of the fire was not yet known, the fire was still "very early in the spring, very voracious from the beginning," Puig explained on Friday.

Puig added the effects of climate change "are undeniable, so the perspective of firefighting must be considered on an annual basis."

Extreme heat and drought have made wildfires even more challenging — some 785,000 hectares were destroyed last year in Europe.

The figure represents more than double the annual average for the past 16 years, according to statistics from the European Commission.

In Spain, 493 fires destroyed a record 307,000 hectares of land, according to the Commission's European Forest Fire information system.

rm/kb (Reuters, AFP)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 26, 2023 12:40 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).