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Title: 3 dead, 24 injured in raging northeast Spain wildfires; road, rail traffic disrupted
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(Josep Ribas/ Associated Press ) - The flame burns the forest on the mountains in La Jonquera, Spain, near the border with France, Sunday ni...

(Josep Ribas/ Associated Press ) - The flame burns the forest on the mountains in La Jonquera, Spain, near the border with France, Sunday night, July 22, 2012. The regional officials said wildfires burned almost 7,000 hectares (17.297 acres) of forest.

MADRID — Two wildfires fanned by strong winds killed three people, injured 24 others and severely disrupted transportation in Spain’s northeast region of Catalonia on Sunday, officials said.

Train services in Alto Ampurdan were suspended and several cross-border roads linking Barcelona with France were closed because of the advancing flames, regional government spokesman Felip Puig said.One person died of a heart attack while dousing flames around his home in Llers and two people fell to their deaths when they jumped into the sea as they tried to escape fires that had engulfed cars on a road near Portbou, the regional fire department said.

The fire service said in a statement that more than 80 teams had been deployed to combat the wildfires, which appear to have started close to the border with France.

“The situation on the roads of the area is very complicated,” the statement said, adding that the main highway linking Spain with France through La Jonquera had been closed.

The statement said about 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) had been consumed by the fires. Residents of the area were told to stay indoors until conditions improve.

State broadcaster TVE said several cars had been forced to stop on the highway to avoid driving into sections that were being swept by flames and efforts were being made to reach the occupants.

Santiago Villa, mayor of Figueres, which houses the famous Salvador Dali museum, said he had ordered the city’s 44,000 residents to stay indoors until further notice.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that it had sent three specially equipped aircraft and an emergency unit from Zaragoza to aid Catalan firefighters.

State broadcaster TVE said in a late news bulletin that high winds were making it difficult for firefighting aircraft to function to their full potential.

Eight of the injured were in serious condition, TVE said.

Spain’s rail company Renfe said in a statement that international high speed trains linking Catalonia with France using the Portbou and Pertus tunnels through the Pyrenees mountains had been cancelled due to the firest.

A north wind called the Tramontana is a regular feature of life in mountainous northeastern Spain and its strong gusts, which can often exceed 100 mph (160 kph), can spread fires rapidly across the heavily forested area.


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