FIREFIGHTERS battled to contain blazes in northeastern Spain as low humidity combined with a heatwave caused tinderbox conditions across much of the country.
Weather alerts were in place across most of Spain on Friday as temperatures soared across the peninsula with a heatwave that has enveloped southern Europe.
On Thursday firefighter teams in northeastern province of Tarragona fought to extinguish a wildfire in an area of protected forest alongside the River Ebro where the mercury soared above 42ºC.
It was brought under control after destroying some 75 hectares thanks to the rapid response of firefighter teams which included 115 members of the Catalan fire service and 32 from Aragon.
As well as 32 fire trucks on the ground, 17 water carrying aircraft were deployed, scooping up water from the nearby Ebro to douse the flames.
The risk of wildfires was said to be extreme across nearly all of Spain on Friday and into the weekend.
While temperatures were forecast to reach above 44ºC on Friday, as the heatwave reaches its peak.
Amber alerts were put in place in 28 provinces of Spain on Friday, while three provinces in Andalucia – Sevilla, Cordoba and Jaen, were issued with red alerts where temperatures could reach the mid-40s.
The heatwave is expected to continue over the weekend and into the early part of next week. Temperatures will start to decrease from Monday.
Aemet’s chief meteorologist Ruben del Campo said that for the first time since 1920, temperatures are forecast to soar above 40°C for three consecutive days at Madrid’s central Retiro park.
Scientists warn that global temperature rises powered by manmade climate change will make heatwaves more intense and more frequent in the future, pointing out the number of these episodes has doubled in the past decade
The number of heatwaves registered in Spain between 2011 and 2020 is double the number recorded in each of the three previous decades.