A Spanish man in his 50s is being treated for serious burns after escaping the flames that engulfed his excavator as he tried to fight one of the wildfires raging in the north-western region of Castilla y León.
Video of the incident, which took place near the town of Tábara in Zamora province on Monday afternoon, shows the vehicle being swallowed by the fire and disappearing behind drifts of smoke.
Seconds later, the man emerges from the inferno with his clothes burned to rags and flames flickering about his back. After stumbling and getting to his feet again, he manages to get free of the blaze.
Regional emergency services said the man had suffered serious burns. After being treated at a local medical centre, he was flown by helicopter to the Río Hortega University hospital in Valladolid.
Although temperatures across Spain are falling as the eight-day heatwave comes to an end, dozens of wildfires – many of them still burning – have devastated almost 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land around the country.
On Monday, the regional government of Castilla y León said the body of a 69-year-old man, reportedly a shepherd, had been found in a burnt-out area near the small town of Escober de Tábara in Zamora. The previous day, authorities in the region also confirmed the death of a firefighter, 62-year-old Daniel Gullón Vara.
Speaking on a visit to the south-western region of Extremadura on Monday morning, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, paid tribute to all those fighting the wildfires and said the events of the past few days were further evidence of the deadly consequences of the climate crisis.
“I want to make something very clear,” he said. “Climate change kills: it kills people, as we’ve seen; it also kills our ecosystem, our biodiversity, and it also destroys the things we as a society hold dear – our houses, our businesses, our livestock.”
Another video shot on Monday showed anxious train passengers caught between two lines of wildfire as it stopped while on the way from Madrid to the north-western city of Ferrol.
“It was really scary to see how quickly the fire spread,” Francisco Seoane, who shot the video, told the Associated Press. “Just in the blink of an eye, a new bush began burning. It was a matter of seconds. It suddenly become night, and we could even smell the smoke.”
Spain’s national rail company, Renfe, said no passengers had been in danger at any time.
July 19, 2022 at 03:28PM Sam Jones in Madrid