Wildfires ravage Spain's Asturias as temperatures hit record highs
(This March 30 story has been refiled to remove incorrect temperature conversion in paragraph 7)
MADRID (Reuters) - More than 100 wildfires broke out in Spain's northern Asturias region on Thursday, most of them started on purpose by arsonists and others, authorities said, as temperatures soared to record highs.
The blazes came on top of another wildfire still burning eight days after it started in woodlands in the eastern Valencia region and yet another that has swept through 1,100 hectares of land in Galicia in the northwest.
Flames raged near a road as cars drove by in Asturias, a lush region with rainy oceanic climate, local TV footage showed.
Authorities banned access to forest tracks, as well as controlled burnings and the use of machinery and motorised tools in forests that could spark more fires.
"Asturias does not burn. THEY BURN IT. And those responsible are those who set fire to our forests. They are criminals, delinquents, and they will be prosecuted and treated as such," regional leader Adrian Barbon wrote on Twitter.
Spain's government says it is worried there will be more fires this year after an unusually dry winter across parts of southern Europe, amid rising temperatures caused by climate change.
Spain registered its hottest March 29 on record on Wednesday, with temperatures exceeding normal levels by seven to 14 Celsius, the meteorological agency AEMET said.
The Canary Islands registered temperatures more common for the summer, with 37.8C in Tasarte, Gran Canaria. Other regions in the Basque Country and some parts of central Spain also recorded record temperatures for the time of year.
Most of Asturias, neighbouring Cantabria and big areas of the Spanish Mediterranean coast were on high alert for the risk of wildfires on Thursday.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and Andrew Heavens)