A FOREST fire fanned by strong winds in the south of Valencia province has forced the evacuation of 850 residents.
The blaze started on Thursday in Montitxelvo, in the Vall d’Albaida region, and around 2,000 hectares have been affected.
Valencian president, Carlos Mazon said that people have been moved as a precaution from the valley l’Orxa and Vilallonga, but there had been no injuries.
Mazon added that he did not expect any further displacements of residents and described the winds as ‘fuelling’ the blaze.
The evicted people are from the municipalities of Terrateig, in the Vall d’Albaida and Castellonet de la Conquesta as well as Font d’en Carros, the population centres of Ermita d’Ador and Monte Corona, and several urbanisations at Villalonga.
Among the evacuees were residents of a mental health facility in Ador, while residents in Potries have been told to stay indoors because of the smoke.
Approximately 200 firefighters and forestry brigades of the Valencia Consortium and the regional government as well as the Military Emergency Unit worked during the night and early morning to protect people, as well as critical infrastructures, including a gas tank.
Air resources have also been requested from Castilla-La Mancha, which were expected to be deployed during Friday morning depending on weather conditions.
The first alarm was received around 2.30pm on Thursday in the Font de Montitxelvo ravine and was not regarded initially as a forest fire.
However, due to the gusts of wind- which reached more than 80 kilometres per hour- the blaze spread quickly and was upgraded to a forest fire two hours later.
In less than half an hour, the flames were already close to homes in the municipality of Terrateig, which had to be evacuated immediately
Mayor Silvia Ferrer said the fire affected the municipality’s sports facilities, as well as a property that been left uninhabitable.