A general view shows wildfires burning near Artazu, Navarre province, Spain, June 19, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Madrid: Cooler temperatures helped firefighters Monday stabilise a wildfire in northwestern Spain that reports say is the biggest on record in the country.

The fire in the Sierra de Culebra mountain range in Zamora province has burnt 31,000 hectares (77,000 acres) so far. The state news agency Efe said that made it the biggest on record since a fire in southwestern Huelva province razed just under 30,000 hectares in 2004.

While the Zamora fire wasn’t under complete control, there are no longer flames and it’s no longer spreading, authorities said Monday.

A drop in soaring temperatures allowed for about 650 firefighters supported by water-dumping aircraft to establish a perimeter around the fire that started Wednesday. People from 18 villages had to be evacuated over the past week.

Locals are evacuated from Artazu as a wildfire approaches, in Navarre province, Spain, June 19, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Elsewhere, 900 people were evacuated from 13 villages in the northern region of Navarra where two wildfires were still active.

Spain has been on alert for an outbreak of intense wildfires as the country last week experienced record temperatures in many places for June. Experts link the abnormally hot period for Europe to climate change.

In Germany, heavy showers overnight and on Monday helped largely extinguish two big forest fires about 20 kilometres apart to the southwest of Berlin. Officials said hundreds of people were able to return to their homes after being evacuated as a precaution over the weekend. Roads also were reopened.

Hundreds of firefighters remained on the scene amid fears that wind could reignite smouldering embers.

Fire brigades extinguish a wildfire in a burnt part of a forest in Frohnsdorf near Treuenbrietzen, southwest of Berlin, eastern Germany, on June 19, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Heatwave hit to France’s cereal crops should be limited

The impact of a heatwave on cereal crops in France, the European Union’s biggest grain producer, should be limited and was not a cause for alarm, the country’s agriculture minister said on Monday.

“For cereals, probably a bit but not that much because we’re already late in the season,” Marc Fesneau told France Info radio when asked about a possible hit to yields from the heatwave.

Cereal yields could see “a decline in relative terms but not dramatically” due to the cumulative effect of last week’s heatwave and preceding spring drought in some regions, he said.

Grain traders and analysts have also seen a moderate risk to crops from last week’s extreme heat, with many French barley and wheat crops at the end of their growth cycle.

Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104ADEGF) in part of France last week as an exceptionally early heatwave spread northwards from Spain, before storms brought cooler weather from Sunday.

The intense heat added further doubt over harvest prospects after drought that damaged some French crops in recent weeks.

France’s farm ministry this month forecast that the average yield for winter barley, harvesting of which is under way, would fall compared with last year, although a bigger crop area would allow production to edge up.

The ministry is due to issue its first wheat production forecast in July.

Dry, hot weather has also parched grasslands and could pose a problem for livestock farmers by reducing availability of straw and other forage crops, Fesneau said.

- with inputs from Reuters