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Wildfires rage along Spain’s coast, arsonist sought

A seaplane drops water over a wildfire next to a residential area along the coastline near the Spanish resort of Javea, Valencia region, on September 5, 2016. More than 1,000 people were evacuated after a wildfire fuelled by intense heat roared through brush surrounding a popular tourist resort on Spain's Costa Blanca, officials said today.  / AFP PHOTO / Manuel Lorenzo

A seaplane drops water over a wildfire next to a residential area along the coastline near the Spanish resort of Javea, Valencia region, on September 5, 2016.<br />More than 1,000 people were evacuated after a wildfire fuelled by intense heat roared through brush surrounding a popular tourist resort on Spain’s Costa Blanca, officials said today.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / Manuel Lorenzo

Wildfires raged along Spain’s coast on Tuesday with police searching for an arsonist who started the blaze near the popular resort of Benidorm that forced the evacuation of 1,400 people.

Hundreds of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft were battling the wildfire which began on Sunday near the resort of Javea, up the coast from Benidorm on Spain’s Costa Blanca.

“Everything indicates that the fire was deliberately set, as there were several outbreaks in different places,” a local police spokesman said, confirming that searches were under way for the perpetrator.

The fire roared through scrubland along the coastline near residential areas around Javea, sending thick plumes of grey smoke into the air.

So far, it has razed more than 800 hectares (1,900 acres) of land, the regional government of Valencia said.

It also destroyed several homes and cars, AFP correspondents said.

Officials evacuated around 1,400 people, including tourists, because of the threat from the flames. They were put up in schools or local residents’ homes.

Firefighters said intense heat, low humidity levels and strong winds were fuelling the fire and make it hard to stamp out.

Most of Spain faced an “extreme risk” of wildfires on Tuesday due to the heat, with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in some parts.

The interior ministry warned the scorching temperatures would continue at least until Wednesday, and urged people not to throw cigarette stubs and glass bottles to the ground in scrubland.

Another wildfire erupted late on Monday on the holiday island of Menorca on Spain’s Balearic Islands near the towns of Cala Moli, Na Macaret and Addaia, a local emergency services official said.

Local officials evacuated around 500 people overnight because of the blaze, he added.

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