SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain – A fire in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia has burned more than 700 hectares (1,750 acres) in a nature park with substantial ecological value, regional government officials said on Sunday.
Of the 700 hectares affected, some 500 (1,250 acres) are wooded, officials said.
The fire in the Fragas do Eume nature park in the municipality of A Capela is still active and has been designated with the highest alert level due to the proximity of the flames to homes.
A Capela Mayor Manuel Meizoso, however, told a local radio station that the flames have already burned about 2,000 hectares (3,000 acres).
A total of 224 soldiers are working to extinguish the fire along with 20 forest brigades, supported by five helicopters and four airplanes, resources that were being added to over the course of the morning, regional government officials said.
About 200 people were evacuated on Saturday from several small towns near the fire, which was being fanned by strong winds all day long, a situation that complicated the work of the brigades trying to put it out.
The fire is “under control,” but it has divided into several separate foci, fire department spokesmen said.
The regional president of Galicia, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, visited the municipalities affected by the fire on Sunday.
Different sources confirmed that the blaze seriously affected the Eume nature park, a protected area that extends through the entire Eume River basin for some 9,000 hectares (22,500 acres) and is one of the most-visited parts of the district.
The Civil Guard since Saturday has been keeping access routes to the nature park closed and evacuated the Caaveiro monastery, which dates from the 12th century and stands on the peak of a hill in a heavily forested area. The site is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Galicia.
The weather service does not expect any rain in the area in the coming hours.
Meanwhile, three other fires in the region that have burned a total of more than 130 hectares (325 acres) of hillside have been brought under control, but a fourth blaze that has destroyed more than 20 hectares (50 acres) is still active.