Hundreds battle blazing forests in northwestern Spain

MADRID (AFP) - More than 200 firefighters battled flames stretching across wooded hillsides in northwestern Spain on Friday in a blaze that forced the evacuation of about 300 people.

The fire raged close to the village of Villardiegua de la Ribera, near the border with Portugal, and consumed part of a national park, said a spokeswoman for the firefighting service of the Castile and Leon region.

Some 300 people were returning to their homes on Friday after being evacuated the previous day because the danger to residents had eased, she said.

The national weather service warned of an "extreme" fire risk on Friday and Saturday for parts of western Spain.

Elsewhere, firefighting teams tamed blazes in the Madrid region of Tres Cantos, which had led to the evacuation of 40 people, and in the tourist island of Majorca which had forced 200 people to leave their homes temporarily.

Forest fires are a frequent danger in Spain's hot, dry summers.

After a rainy winter, however, there have been few fires so far this year: 13,335 hectares had been scorched up to July 21 compared to 147,854 hectares in the same period last year, according to the agriculture ministry.

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