Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 16:34 UK

Mediterranean fires still burning


In Spain, where six firefighters died, four fires are burning, but blazes in Aragon and Catalonia were extinguished

Firefighters who have been battling wildfires across southern Europe for several days say they are gaining the upper hand.

Thousands of acres of woodland in Spain, France, Greece and Sardinia have been destroyed by fires fuelled by high temperatures and strong winds.

In Spain, where six firefighters died, four fires are burning, but blazes in Aragon and Catalonia were extinguished.

A state of alert remains, with high temperatures and strong winds forecast.

More than 50 blazes broke out on Sunday in Greece, where temperatures rose over 40C, including one that trapped 70 beach-goers on the island of Zakynthos who had to be evacuated by boats.

Arson suspicions

In the north-eastern Spanish region of Aragon, where more than 11,700 hectares (28,900 acres) has been burnt, firefighters said three fires had been brought under control and that they were close to doing so with three other active blazes.

Charred orange trees near Valencia, Spain (25 July 2009)
Thousands of hectares have been destroyed by the fires in Spain

However, a fire which appeared to have been brought under control near the town of Las Hurdes in Extremadura flared up overnight due to strong winds, forcing 500 people to be evacuated and 400 firefighters to be deployed.

French firefighters are also continuing to battle a major wildfire near Aullene on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which has so far destroyed 3,500 hectares (8,650 acres) of land.

On Sunday evening, a blaze which broke out near Marseille last week was said to have been completely extinguished.

Officials believe some of the fires in Corsica were deliberately lit and three people have been arrested on suspicion of arson. The fire near Marseille was accidentally started when tracer bullets were used during an army firing exercise.

More than 15 people suspected of starting wildfires are reported to have been arrested in Spain.

Meanwhile in Italy, the blazes which left two people dead last week have been brought under control, with the exception of one in a nature reserve on Sicily, officials say.

As many as 25,000 hectares (60,000 acres) were devastated on Sardinia by four fires, fanned by high temperatures and strong winds.

Widfires in southern Europe

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