Wildfires rip through parts of rural Valencia as locals are evacuated

FOUR separate wildfires in Valencia have forced the evacuation of two housing estates and a hospital, with a number of municipalities on alert and the regional government requesting assistance from the national administration as over 130 fire brigades comprising some 600 firefighters attempt to control the situation.

The first blaze broke out in the rural municipality of Bolbaite at around 8pm on Thursday June 17, and remained out of control on Friday morning due to strong westerly winds, as it moved towards the neighbouring town of Sumacarcer.

Efforts to extinguish the inferno have not been helped by further fires in nearby Carcaixent and Terrateig, although the latter was declared under control by 7pm on Thursday, with a fourth reported from Benifairó de les Valls early on Friday morning.

The Aguas Vivas hospital and one urbanisation in Carcaixent have been cleared of residents due to the proximity of the flames,, while an additional housing estate has been evacuated close to Sumacarcer.

More than 2,000 hectares of land have now been affected in an area containing many foreign residents, and the port of Gandia has been temporarily closed to facilitate faster loading of water onto the fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

Valencian president, Ximo Puig, attended the scene at Carcaixent on Friday morning, as firefighters from Castellon and Spanish military arrived to provide further assistance.

The situation at Benifairo de les Valls, around 120 km further north, appears to be less serious, but two aeroplanes have been dispatched to ensure it does not get out of control, since strong winds continue to buffet the Valencian coast.

Government delegate Juan Carlos Moragues visited the Advance Command Post in the town of Anna, and he said: “We have deployed 229 troops from the military emergency troops, 64 vehicles and a helicopter, while Guardia Civil and civil protection officers are also pitching in.”

According to the Guardia Civil, a 19-year-old man has been detained on suspicion of starting the blaze in Bolbaite.

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