Two locals try to extinguish flames on land in Galicia this week. / EP

Over 200,000 hectares destroyed so far this year in Spain and the hot, dry weather is set to continue

The government has promised to restore areas ravaged by wildfires and the opposition has called for the army to be used to help firefighters

SUR MALAGA.

By the early part of this week, some 30,000 hectares of Spain had been swept by wildfires in the previous seven days alone. Just as in other parts of Europe, emergency services were being stretched to the limit, even in a country like Spain that is well-used to dangerously high temperatures.

This is the worst fire damage in the country for many years and almost 200,000 hectares have now been destroyed since the start of the year. The northern regions of Galicia, Extremadura and Castilla y León have been particularly hard hit. In Castilla y León, two died and 25 villages were evacuated with 6,000 people in the two large fires in Zamora province this week. The largest of the two covered 15,000 hectares.

There were dramatic pictures of a train crossing between two bush fires earlier this week in Zamora before services were finally suspended.

Rail services were also halted for six hours on Wednesday on the busy high-speed line from Madrid to Barcelona due to a fire in Zaragoza province (Aragón).

Here, flames had destroyed 14,000 hectares by Wednesday. The irony was that a firm in charge of replanting trees was forced to admit it was the cause after a spark from a digger ignited vegetation.

PM visits devastation

The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, visited the scene of the Zaragoza fire on Wednesday. "The government will dedicate all the resources needed to restore the natural areas destroyed by the flames," he said.

The opposition PP has called for more use to be made of the army in putting them out.

Following on from the large fire in the Sierra de Mijas last weekend, in Malaga province another fire broke out in the Cómpeta area of the Axarquía on Monday afternoon. Fortunately, by Tuesday morning, the blaze had been officially put out.

Weather forecasters say there will be no let up in the hot temperatures and that this weekend 90 per cent of Spain will be at high risk of wildfire.