By HAROLD HECKLE
15 May 2015
MADRID (Associated Press) – Sunny Spain and Portugal are seeing record high temperatures for May, hitting levels normally only reached in mid-summer.
Up to 20 Spanish cities have been hit by scorching temperatures and several regional governments are worried about the effects the heat wave could have on crops, Spain's meteorological agency said Friday.
It said the eastern town of Xativa recorded 42.9 degrees Celsius (109.2 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, breaking a 2006 record of 40.1 degrees Celsius (104.2 Fahrenheit) set at Cordoba Airport.
Portugal also set a May record, with the southern city of Beja sizzling Wednesday in 40 degrees Celsius heat. Portugal's previous May high was 39.5 degrees Celsius (103.1 Fahrenheit) in 2011.
The stifling heat stretched across to Spain's Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, where temperatures of 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 Fahrenheit) were recorded Wednesday at Lanzarote Airport.
The town of Pego in Spain's eastern Alicante region was fighting a wildfire Friday and authorities in the northeastern region of Catalonia warned of an increased danger of wildfires.
Catalonia is also assessing claims from farmers who say their crops have been damaged by the hot weather and the lack of rain. State broadcaster TVE said some estimates calculated the agricultural losses could exceed 50 million euros ($57 million).
15 May 2015 (thinkSPAIN) – A massive forest fire in a mountain valley above the Costa Blanca has left an entire village covered in ash and residents being given oxygen masks.
The blaze broke out in the Vall d'Ebo, in the far north of the province of Alicante, early yesterday afternoon (Thursday) in the Solana de Garrofar area close to the neighbouring valley, the Vall d'Alcalà.
Armed forces members have been sent out to help tackle the inferno and the Red Cross has been deployed in the nearest town, Pego.
The fire continues to burn out of control, and residents on the Los Verdales urbanisation have been evacuated from their villas as a precaution.
Homes on the very edge of Pego town have been affected by the flames, which have reached the stations of the cross up the hill to the chapel where the Good Friday parades take place.
Nearby Adsubia may be the next to see residents evacuated - most inhabitants are on the Les Bassetes urbanisation, and a high number of them are expatriates, including Britons.
Seven hydroplanes were drafted in yesterday afternoon, although they were unable to continue fighting the fire after night fell.
Flames spread to within half a kilometre of Pego, a town about four kilometres inland with some 10,000 inhabitants, and the sky was bright orange.
Ashes and smoke completely covered the town centre, and emergency services have had to hand out oxygen masks to residents.
The fire is now so huge that red clouds could be seen from as far away as Oliva (Valencia province). […]
Residents in Pego are heavily criticising the lack of proper facilities for putting out the fire and, when regional president Alberto Fabra visited the site of the devastation yesterday afternoon, he was jeered and booed at by the crowds. […]
Last night saw the flames spread even further and the only hope at present is a change in wind direction to blow them away from residential areas.
It was caused by a bonfire on a farm which blew out of control.
Yesterday saw temperatures reaching nearly 42ºC across the Comunidad Valenciana, leading authorities to issue an orange warning over forest fire risk. [more]