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Hundreds flee fires threatening Spain’s Costa Blanca resorts

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Image: Flames of a wildfire engulf a hillside next to houses in Benitatxell near Alicante, Spain September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Heino Kalis

MADRID (Reuters) – Fires raged around Spain’s eastern Costa Blanca resorts on Sunday and Monday, forcing more than 1,000 residents and tourists to flee, emergency services said.

Authorities said they believed people had started three blazes that ripped through vegetation and destroyed buildings in the town of Javea and other areas up the coast from the popular holiday spot of Benidorm.

“The hand of man again was involved in a very precise way, choosing the hottest day of the year,” Jose Maria Angel, the head of the Valencia region’s emergency services, told Spanish radio.

Temperatures soared to 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) on Sunday in Javea, where foreigners make up almost half of residents. The fires broke out on Sunday afternoon and spread quickly, fueled by strong winds and dry conditions.

More than 300 people lodged in local schools and shelters, said emergency services who fought the flames through the night, backed by aircraft and military units.

(Reporting by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sarah White and Andrew Heavens)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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