Figueres: Spanish firefighters, aided by weaker winds and cooler temperatures, have brought under control a huge wildfire which killed four people and charred thousands of hectares.
"The good news is that the wildfire that started in La Junquera was brought under control today," said Felip Puig, interior minister of the northeastern Catalonia region where the fire broke out on Sunday near the French border.
"We are going to continue working still for two or three more days but at the moment the perimetre of the fire has been stabalised," he told AFP in the town of Figueres.
The fire, which officials believe was likely caused by a discarded cigarette butt, has ravaged over 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres), devouring tall trees and leaving charred earth and flocks of dead sheep in its wake.
About 1,500 people including emergency and military personnel and local volunteers battled the blaze yesterday, backed by 25 French and Spanish aircraft. Water-bombing planes were grounded on Monday because of high winds.
Four people have been killed since the fire began. One Frenchman and his 15-year-old daughter died after jumping off a cliff and another Frenchman died in hospital from burns after his car was engulfed in flames.
A 75-year-old Spanish man died of a heart attack as he watched his house go up in flames.
Six people remained in hospital yesterday, including a nine-year-old boy who was in intensive care, the regional health department said.
Emergency services ordered thousands of area towns to stay indoors with their windows and doors shut because of the threat from the smoke and flames.
Hundreds of people, including tourists a campsite, were evacuated on Monday and spent the night in emergency shelters set up in the region, mostly in the town of Figueres, a few kilometres (miles) south of the border.
Mark Van Persie, a 48-year-old Dutchman who drove with his family from the Netherlands in their caravan to holiday in Spain, said he was given 10 minutes to pack a few things and leave a campsite in Albanya.
Story first published:
July 25, 2012 09:10 IST