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Title: Valencia fire doubles its advance in a few hours
Author: Fraser Trevor
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estimates say as much as 45,000 hectares have been affected and 3,000 people have been evacuatedPhoto EFE The fire which started at Corte...

estimates say as much as 45,000 hectares have been affected and 3,000 people have been evacuatedPhoto EFE The fire which started at Cortes de Pallas, Valencia on Thursday duplicated its advance in just a few hours on Sunday afternoon and now affects 20 municipalities. The constantly changing wind and the high temperatures have pushed the fire in Andilla towards the Sierra Calderono, considered as the green lung of Valencia. The fire is jumping over roads and burning anything that gets in its way. The Mayor of Andilla said ‘There is nothing left of the richness we had in the forest’. He said that they are ‘desperate’ and that extinguishing the fire is ‘proving very complicated’. The number of people evacuated by the Cortes de Pallas fire in Valencia has now risen to 3,000. The smoke from the fire has closed thirteen roads. The town of Dos Aguas had to be evacuated on Thursday, and today other nearby municipalities have also been evacuated. The residents have been taken to Turis or Macastre where facilities are being prepared for them. Some residents of Cortes de Pallás are now being allowed back home. The President of the Generalitat regional government, Alberto Fabra, flew over the affected area by helicopter and he said that the thousands of hectares affected presented a ‘gruesome and devastating’ landscape. He described the fire as ‘the largest in recent years’, but declined to put a number on the hectares destroyed. The largest front of the four which remain active was advancing towards Llombai and Catadau. Only in the mountain zone of La Concordia the flames have affected 11,000 hectares, and some estimate that as many as 45,000 hectares have been affected in total. Fire fighters are seeing the extinction of the blaze being complicated by 50km/hr northerly winds and the high temperatures. They are 200 fire fighters on the land using 52 fire trucks and in the air using 28 fire fighting planes and helicopters. 1,000 people, including 500 from the emergency military and dozens of volunteers, some of whom have travelled other districts and provinces are doing what they can. The fire fighters are being helped by the Military Emergency Unit, UME, who have sent 900 soldiers to the zone. They are stopping the flames from advancing. They say this is the largest fire registered in the zone for the last 20 years. Some good news came with showers in the Andilla area which could help to control the fire, and the stronger levante wind on Sunday night could also help. Some Mayors have complained that they lack the means for fight the fire which has come on what is the hottest June in the area for 42 years. A total of 14 secondary roads have been closed as a consequence of the smoke and ash from the fire, and a cloud of smoke is covering part of Valencia province and is hanging over Valencia city. The Cruz Roja has been increases places is hostels, and dozens of parishes have been offering help to those who have been evacuated from their homes. Those affected have complained that ‘we can’t do anything more’. They say the fire service took as much as four hours to arrive in Andilla and fight the fire. That claim has been dismissed by the regional government. Those affected also say that none of the environmental agents sent to the scene know the zone. It has been noticed that no minister has gone to the zone. The Prime Minister offered his help and then went to the football. Investigations continue into how the blaze started and the latest theory is that negligence in the installation of solar panels could be to blame. Two people were arrested, operators of company which was placing solar panels in a home, and on Saturday they appeared before the duty judge Court three in Requena. They were charged with the crime causing damage against the environment through negligence, and granted provisional release. There are reports that the work they were carrying out was not authorised. However on Sunday night it emerged that another person was detained as the alleged starter of the fire. He was burning stubble. He will appear in court on Monday charged with the crime of recklessly starting a fire. It’s not the only fire in Spain this weekend. A fire at Prats de Rei in Barcelona, was controlled by the firemen. It started on Friday and has burnt 909 hectares. A fire in Albacete has extended to Murcia. It was started on Sunday by lightening close the residential area and college of Nord Palància, in Sagunto.

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