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Spain battles forest fires as heat wave persists » Capital News

Madrid, June 16 – Emergency services battled several wildfires on Thursday as Spain remained in the throes of an exceptionally hot spell that saw temperatures soar to 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Farenheit).

The most alarming blaze, near Baldomar in Catalonia, has already destroyed 500 hectares of forest but could spread to more than 20,000, the northwestern region’s government has said.

No one has yet been evacuated but Catalan authorities have cordoned off several residential areas as a precaution.

In the province of Lerida, where Baldomar is located, temperatures reached 41°C on Thursday.

The Spanish meteorological office AEMET also predicted temperatures above 40°C in Badajoz in the southwest and Zaragoza in the northeast.

Two other forest fires were raging Thursday morning in Catalonia, in the provinces of Lérida and Tarragona, and had destroyed nearly 300 hectares, Catalan authorities said.

Another was burning in the Sierra de la Culebra mountains in Zamora, central Spain.

In the northern province of Navarre, firefighters brought two forest fires under control overnight Wednesday, regional emergency services said.

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The six-day heat wave, exceptional in Spain for this time of year, has affected the whole country and is expected to last until Saturday, AEMET said.

Spain recorded its hottest May since the start of the 21st century and experienced four episodes of extreme temperatures in less than a year.

In neighboring Portugal, last month was the hottest May since 1931.

Heat waves have become more frequent due to climate change, scientists say.

As global temperatures increase over time, heat waves are expected to become more frequent and intense, and their impacts more widespread.