Image: Helicopter drops water on fire
Pedro Armestre  /  AFP-Getty Images
A helicopter drops water on a wildfire burning near Aliaga, Spain, on Thursday.
updated 7/24/2009 4:59:10 PM ET 2009-07-24T20:59:10

Spain was placed on maximum wildfire alert Friday as authorities elsewhere in the Mediterranean also battled blazes and braced for a weekend heat wave.

Eight large fires raged in eastern Spain. A firefighter died in the hospital Friday, bringing the number to have died from forest fires this week to six.

Around 1,500 people were evacuated from the Mediterranean coastal resort town of Mojacar as flames spread, fanned by dry winds in intense summer heat. Regional authorities deployed thousands of people and more than 30 aircraft to combat the flames in tinder-dry pine forest regions.

The Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement that it has issued recommendations to help citizens avoid starting fires as temperatures soared to 102 degrees Fahrenheit Friday.

Fires in Spain and other Mediterranean countries char hundreds of thousands of acres every year.

Amid soaring temperatures, wildfires also raged Friday on the French island of Corsica, in Greece, and in Italy, where 10-water dropping planes helped combat fires on the island of Sardinia.

Italy's Department of Civil Protection said it has boosted its air fleet for this year's fire season. It said one man was killed by fire in Sardinia, while homes were evacuated in five areas of the island.


In Greece, two wildfires north of Athens were contained, but authorities there have issued weekend fire warnings for large parts of the country with temperatures forecast to reach 109 Fahrenheit.

Earlier this week, Greece's government announced a wide-ranging firefighting measures, including broader powers by local authorities to order evacuations of fire-threatened areas, and the involvement of the country's intelligence agency in arresting arsonists.

Massive blazes in Greece two years ago killed more than 70 people.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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