UPDATE: Wild fire in Catalonia still burning

THE wild fire that has devastated thousands of hectares of forest in Catalonia is still out of control.

Firefighters worked through the night, and today face a huge challenge as extreme temperatures make the situation worse.

Today is expected to be a worse day than yesterday, as it will be even hotter. “We are in an exceptional situation that we have not seen for 20 years,” said the Generalitat regional government in a statement released by the fire service.

The head of the Bombers (Fire brigade) de Catalunya, Antoni Ramos, said it is still too early to say when they could expect to bring the blaze under control. According to Ramos, it was a “complicated” night although the fire “has progressed as we expected, and we have achieved the goals we had set ourselves.”

Some 400 fire fighters have been deployed to tackle the blaze, which has affected an estimated 6,500 hectares of land. The fire started on Wednesday (June 26), with investigators working on the theory it could have been caused by the auto combustion of a pile of manure.

The affected municipalities are Torre de l’Espanyol, Vinebre, La Palma d’Ebre, Flix and Maials in Tarragona.

Now the Military Emergency Unit (UME) has sent a new intervention section from Valencia consisting of 221 military personnel to help quell the fire, in addition to the 120 from the Zaragoza battalion mobilised yesterday. This new section of the Spanish Army’s specialised unit is accompanied by 12 fire engines, a Cougar helicopter and two bulldozers.

Six firefighting planes and three helicopters were also tackling the fire.

The Government delegate in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera, and the subdelegates in Lleida, José Crespín, and in Tarragona, Joan Sabaté, have offered the collaboration of the Government of Spain to all administrations and security and emergency forces.

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