JUL 03, 2017 5:52 AM PDT

Wildfires ravage the Western US and Spain

Wildfires have been sparking up all over the Western United States, with more than 20 isolated spots burning in the last week. The largest, which is located near Brian Head in Southern Utah, has burned more than 67 square miles; over 1,500 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

In Arizona, too, high temperatures and dry conditions are driving a wildfire near Prescott, CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas reported. Continued drought and surging heat are tell-tales signs of climate change, and the convergence of these consequences are not only being seen in the US.

A wildfire ravaged a national park in Spain this past week as well. Donana National Park, a renowned conservation wetland and UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994, evacuated 2,000 people this past week, officials said. Authorities sent 10 helicopters, seven planes and four waterbombing jets to manage the fire and luckily, Spanish firefighters were able to contain the fire and stopped the fire from spreading from Spain’s southwestern coast actually into the park. The blaze started about 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of the park.

The cause of the fire was not clear and regional president Susana Diaz, commented that "the human factor cannot be excluded." Yet even if the fire was not deliberately started by humans, there were definitely anthropogenic causes in the form of climate change. Diaz said hot, dry weather, with highs of 39 degrees Celsius and shifting winds made the fire difficult to contain.

Nevertheless, Andalusian regional environment chief Jose Fiscal reported that a reconnaissance flight showed the fire had basically been tackled. Additionally, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido tweeted that the fire that started Saturday was "under control”. The area’s roads were reopened and all personnel fighting the fire returned to their bases.

Wildfires spread through Spain's coast. Photo: Daily Mail

Donana National Park protects more than 107,000 hectares land. It's home to many species of migratory birds and other fauna, the most charismatic of which are the Iberian lynx, which is endangered, and the Spanish Imperial eagle. Unfortunately, one lynx was victim as a consequence of resettlement after the fire, dying from stress when workers tried to get her and other adults and cubs out of a breeding center near Donana.

These fires come only shortly after a wildfire in Portugal just several weeks ago, when after drought and extreme heat 64 people were killed.

Sources: ABC, Firefighter Nation, Al Jazeera, CBS

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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