Spanish authorities on Tuesday blamed arsonists and record temperatures for wildfires ravaging the eastern coast near the popular resort of Benidorm that have forced 1,400 people to flee.
Hundreds of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft were battling the largest of several fires which began Sunday near the resort of Javea, up the coast from Benidorm on Spain's Costa Blanca.
Another blaze was raging near the mountain town of Bolulla, about 40 kilometres west of Javea, while Spanish emergency services faced a third one on the Mediterranean island of Menorca, also popular with holidaymakers.
More than two dozen stations registered record high temperatures across the country on Monday in what Spain's weather agency said was a "historic day for heat."
Most of Spain has faced an "extreme risk" of wildfires since Sunday due to a heatwave, with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius in some parts.
However, authorities said that gasoline cans had been found and that there were "three or four" separate outbreaks of fire.
"There is one or several arsonists," Jose Maria Angel Batalla, an emergency services chief responsible for the Costa Blanca area, told radio Cope, referring to the fire near Javea.
'Very difficult area'
The main blaze roared through scrubland along the coastline near residential areas around Javea, sending thick plumes of grey smoke into the air.
It has razed more than 800 hectares of land, according to the regional government and charred several buildings in the area which is popular with British and German holidaymakers.
Images broadcast on Spanish television showed a wall of flames moving towards a row of white-washed villas.
"It's an area with a lot of villas and country homes with old pines. It is a very difficult area to control a fire," Juan Carlos Moragues, who represents the Spanish government in the eastern region of Valencia, told radio Onda Cero.
Officials have evacuated around 1,400 people, including tourists, with many spending the night in local schools or at local residents' homes.
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