Image: Fire in Avila, Spain
Pedro Armestre  /  AFP-Getty Images
A fire rages outside Cuevas del Valle in the Spanish province of Avila early Wednesday.
updated 7/29/2009 11:10:15 AM ET 2009-07-29T15:10:15

One man has been killed and a woman is missing after a wildfire swept across woodland south of the central Spanish city of Avila.

The man died after his home in Arenas de San Pedro was engulfed by flames, Maria Jesus Ruiz, a regional Environmental Ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday. She said the missing woman may be related to him.

Around 200 firefighters and 22 aircraft have been deployed to combat the fire, which had raged across 740 acres of woods, Ruiz said.

A plume of smoke rising from the forest fire could be seen 100 miles away in Madrid.

Regional officials said several homes and the convent of San Pedro de Alcantara, built in 1561 south of the ancient walled city of Avila, had been evacuated.

An investigation was under way to determine if the fire was started deliberately, as some local eyewitnesses believed, Ruiz said.

"It had three starting focal points, from which it has been clearly started intentionally," Ruiz said. She said the fire began at around 1:30 p.m. local time.

The Interior Ministry said crews were also fighting to control fires in the western town of Nunomoral in Caceres, not far from the border with Portugal, and in Almonte near Spain's southwestern Atlantic coast.

Another fire in Hervias in the northern wine producing region of Rioja was under control and being dowsed by two aircraft, the ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.

Ministry officials calculate that around 59,000 acres have been charred by fires that have killed seven people in just over a week.

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