MADRID (AP) — Strong winds have fanned wildfires that have raged out of control for three days in southwestern Spain and made firefighting difficult, forcing the evacuation of 3,000 inhabitants, officials said Saturday.
Some 1,000 residents were evacuated from the town Hoyos in the early hours of the morning after overnight winds "reversed all yesterday's firefighting achievements," said Extremadura regional government president Guillermo Fernandez Vara.
Fernandez Vara said more than 6,500 hectares (25 square miles) had burned since flames were detected Thursday in the Sierra de Gata — a region of outstanding natural beauty.
Those evacuated joined another 2,000 inhabitants from the villages of Acebo and Perales del Puerto — as well as tourists who had been staying at a campsite nearby — who had been given shelter in the city of Caceres and the town of Moraleja.
Fernandes Vara said evidence pointed to numerous separate ignition points, indicating that "man's hand must be behind these fires."
Regional government spokeswoman Cristina Herrera said 16 water-carrying aircraft and 300 firefighters — including a contingent from neighboring Portugal — were combatting the flames as Spain endured an extended heat wave.
Firefighters succeeded in controlling a wildfire in the southeastern Murcia region, where 700 hectares had burned.