Spain's government has said it would classify regions struck by big wildfires this year as disaster zones, a move that will trigger emergency subsidies and other financial support measures.

So far Spain has suffered nearly 400 wildfires, following punishing heatwaves and long dry spells, which have devastated more than 287,000 hectares of land, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

That is more than three times the total area destroyed in 2021, according to the EFFIS database.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said tomorrow his cabinet will approve classifying as a disaster zone "all territories that have been devastated by the great fires that we have endured throughout this year".

A firefighting helicopter works on extinguishing the forest fire between Alcublas and Bejis

He was speaking during a visit to Bejis in the eastern Valencia region, where a wind-fanned blaze ravaged vast swathes of land over the past week, with around 2,200 people evacuated.

Firefighters managed to stabilise the blaze yesterday, allowing local officials to lift all remaining evacuation orders.

Standing in front of charred trees, Mr Sanchez said he regretted the "psychological blow" suffered by those who had lost their belongings to the flames, as well as the environmental damage.

"Unfortunately, science tells us that the coming summers are going to be even hotter. We are facing a climate emergency," he added.

Parts of Spain are the driest they have been in a thousand years due to an atmospheric high-pressure system driven by climate change, according to a study published last month in the journal, Nature Geoscience.

Experts say climate change driven by human activity is boosting the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and wildfires.


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Earlier yesterday, Valencia regional president Ximo Puig said all remaining evacuees could return to their homes.

"Now is the time to return to normality, with caution," he said.

Local officials had on Saturday already lifted evacuation orders in two villages, Bejis and Toras, because the threat from the flames had diminished.

About 20 aircraft were deployed to battle the blaze on Sunday, compared to 42 the day before.

Another major wildfire that broke out last Saturday some 200km further south in the Vall de Ebo was brought under control on Sunday, Mr Puig said.

It has ravaged some 12,000 hectares of woods, bushes and farmland.

The blazes are among the almost 400 to have broken out in Spain so far this year amid a series of punishing heatwaves and long dry spells that have devastated more than 283,000 hectares of land, more than three times the total area destroyed in 2021.

Areas of neighbouring Portugal have likewise suffered devastation.