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article imageSpain battling largest wildfire in 20 years as Europe sizzles

By Karen Graham     Jun 28, 2019 in Environment
More than 500 firefighters and soldiers are battling Spain's largest wildfire in two decades as Europe continues to wither under an extreme heat wave.
It is believed the cause of the out-of-control wildfire in the Catalan province of Tarragona, in northeastern Spain was started when improperly stored chicken manure self-ignited in the high heat.
The wildfire is being fought by over 500 firefighters and a Spanish military unit with 120 specialists. The blaze has spread over 5,500 hectares (13,590 acres) of difficult, hilly terrain near the Ebro River and forced the evacuation of 53 residents.
Spontaneous combustion can occur when materials self-heat, reaching a high enough temperature for ignition to occur, according to the National Park Service. In the case of manure, microbes inside the dung can release heat until "it erupts into fire,: reports Eco-Watch.
European heatwave
European heatwave
High temperatures, low humidity, and high winds fanned the flames that killed hundreds of horses and sheep incinerated on a farm that had stood in the path of the fire, reports NBC News.
"We're facing a serious fire on a scale not seen for 20 years," Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch said in a tweet reported by The Guardian. "It could burn through 20,000 hectares. Let's be very aware that any carelessness could lead to a catastrophe."
The heatwave in Europe is so bad that In the southern French départements of Hérault, Gard, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône officials have raised the heat alert to red for the first time since the system was put in place following a 2003 heat wave that killed 15,000.
"All members of the public should be concerned, even those who are in good health," the French interior ministry cautioned, according to The Guardian.
So far in June, temperature records were broken in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic on Wednesday, according to BBC News.
More about Spain, Heatwave, Manure, Catalan province, Wildfire
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