2 die, wildfire rages in Spain amid widespread heatwave

  29 June 2019    Read: 827
2 die, wildfire rages in Spain amid widespread heatwave

Two people have died from heatstroke in Spain as firefighters continue to battle a wildfire raging through the country for a third straight day that started with a pile of animal manure, AP reports.

An 80-year-old man collapsed and died in the street in Valladolid, in northwest Spain, on Thursday and a 17-year-old boy died in the southern city of Cordoba after diving into a swimming pool and losing consciousness after he reported feeling dizzy while working in a field.

Both deaths were heat stroke related.

The deaths come as record temperatures throughout Spain have caused a wildfire to spread in Palma d'Ebre, which started with the spontaneous combustion of a pile of chicken manure on a livestock farm, and raced across the hills of northeastern Spain amid a massive European heat wave.

Chief Inspector Josep Antoni Mur said at a news conference Thursday that the pile grew hotter as it fermented, and then flames were blown into the surrounding vegetation.

Authorities said there were more than 700 firefighters, eight helicopters and six water-dropping aircraft that aimed to slow the fire's progress until nightfall, when cooler temperatures might give them an advantage.

Authorities said the fire is the Catalonia region's worst fire in two decades and 50,000 acres of hilly terrain are at risk. By Friday, an estimated 6,000 hectares had burned. More than 50 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Over in France, the national weather service activated its highest-level heat danger alert as the country hit an all-time record high temperature on Friday of 113 Fahrenheit.

About 4,000 schools closed because they couldn't ensure safe conditions but some stayed open as the only haven for some students.

Teachers at the Victor Hugo Primary School in Colombes near Paris abandoned suffocating classrooms and are keeping children outside all day, spraying them with water and organizing quiet activities in the shade.

"I make them go in the playground with books, in the shade, they must stay seated," said teacher Valerie Prevost. "We tell them to dampen their caps, to drink regularly."

Four people have drowned so far in France this week, and a 12-year-old girl drowned in a river near Manchester, England. France's health minister and British police warned people to swim only in authorized areas.


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