A view of a fire burning in Pinofranqueado, Spain in this screen grab taken from a handout video. Image Credit: Reuters

Madrid: Firefighters backed by soldiers battled a wildfire in western Spain on Friday that has forced hundreds of people to evacuate from nearby villages, officials said.

The blaze, which broke out Wednesday near the village of Pinofranqueado in the sparsely populated region of Extremadura, was set "intentionally", the region's agriculture minister Begona Garcia told reporters.

At least 550 people from several villages have been evacuated because of the risk of the flames, Spain's Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

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The battle against the blaze was "evolving unfavourably, mainly due to the strong winds," the statement added.

Over 275 professionals backed by 14 water aircraft were working to put out the flames, the regional government said.

The firefighting team included some 165 soldiers from Spain's military emergencies unit UME.

"There are very strong gusts of wind, which are making it very difficult to put out the fire," UME commander David Barona told public television TVE.

He estimated the blaze had so far ravaged up to 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of land.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he was following the "evolution of the wildfire very closely".

Spain, which is experiencing long-term drought after three years of below-average rainfall, has experienced multiple wildfires already this year.

In 2022, a particularly bad year for wildfires in Europe, Spain was the continent's worst-hit country. Nearly 500 blazes destroyed more than 300,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.

Climate change amplifies droughts that create ideal conditions for wildfires to spread out of control and inflict unprecedented material and environmental damage.