Cooler weather helps Spain with fires; rain helps in Germany

MADRID (AP) — Cooler temperatures helped firefighters Monday stabilize a wildfire in northwestern Spain that reports say is the biggest on record in the country.

The fire in the Sierra de Culebra mountain range in Zamora province has burnt 31,000 hectares (77,000 acres) so far. The state news agency Efe said that made it the biggest on record since a fire in southwestern Huelva province razed just under 30,000 hectares in 2004.

While the Zamora fire wasn’t under complete control, there are no longer flames and it’s no longer spreading, authorities said Monday.

A drop in soaring temperatures allowed for about 650 firefighters supported by water-dumping aircraft to establish a perimeter around the fire that started Wednesday. People from 18 villages had to be evacuated over the past week.

Elsewhere, 900 people were evacuated from 13 villages in the northern region of Navarra where two wildfires were still active.

Spain has been on alert for an outbreak of intense wildfires as the country last week experienced record temperatures in many places for June. Experts link the abnormally hot period for Europe to climate change.

In Germany, heavy showers overnight and on Monday helped largely extinguish two big forest fires about 20 kilometers (12½ miles) apart to the southwest of Berlin. Officials said hundreds of people were able to return to their homes after being evacuated as a precaution over the weekend. Roads also were reopened.

Hundreds of firefighters remained on the scene amid fears that wind could reignite smoldering embers.