Spanish forest fire claims fifth firefighter in a week

A firefighter walks around the area where a fire burns in Andorra early on July 23, near Teruel.
The driver of a fire truck died Thursday while racing to fight a raging forest fire in eastern Spain, the fifth fatality among firefighters this week, authorities said.

The 44-year-old firefighter died while heading toward a fire in Teruel province, the regional Aragon government said on its Web site. Four firefighters died Tuesday while battling a forest fire in the eastern Catalonia region, not far from Teruel, CNN partner station CNN+ reported, citing local authorities. Those authorities said the fire, in Horta de Sant Joan in Tarragona province, had been under control at midday Tuesday, but winds revived it, trapping the four firefighters, CNN+ reported. By Thursday, the Catalan fire at Horta de Sant Joan remained out of control, a regional official said, while in neighboring Aragon region, six fires still blazed out of control. Some 8,000 hectares (nearly 20,000 acres) have already burned in Aragon, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,600 people. A dozen other fires in the region have been brought under control, the Aragon government said. Aircraft, including planes and helicopters, were being used in Aragon and Catalonia to battle the fires, along with hundreds of firefighters in the hilly terrain, much of it with difficult access. More than 800 Spanish troops are fighting numerous forest fires across Spain, the Environment Ministry said. Other forest fires in Spain on Wednesday afternoon forced an interruption of service of the bullet train between Madrid and Barcelona, affecting more than 6,000 passengers, the state railway authority said. By Thursday morning, service had been resumed on the route, used by many business travelers. Spain is plagued by forest and brush fires every summer, when extremely dry weather sets in along with high temperatures. In 2005, 11 people were killed when they were trapped by a fast-moving fire in Guadalajara province, east of Madrid.