Fires in Spain: passengers injured while fleeing a train in Bejís

MADRID — Ten passengers were injured, three seriously, when they tried to escape from a train that was caught in a forest fire northwest of Valencia in eastern Spain.

The blaze near Bejís was fanned by high winds, leaving several firefighters running for their lives.

The passengers were on a service from Valencia to Zaragoza in the north when the fire brought the train to a standstill.

The train driver asked passengers to stay on board, but some panicked.

As he prepared to reverse the train, which left Valencia late Tuesday afternoon with 48 passengers on board, some smashed windows in an attempt to escape as the flames approached.

Some of those who fled suffered burns and one was airlifted to hospital for treatment in Valencia. Those most burned were a 58-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl, according to Spanish reports.

No one who remained on the train was injured.

The intensity of the fire was shared on social media as the train approached.

The conductor eventually moved to the rear of the train and retired to the nearby Caudiel station. Passengers who had fled along the tracks rejoined the train and those who were injured received first aid there.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated from Bejís and neighboring towns.

Castellón firefighters shared a video of firefighters fleeing flames several meters high as the wind changed and threatened their lives.

“Run Run!” they can be heard screaming as the fire surrounds them.

Firefighters fear that up to 6,000 hectares (60 km²) of land has been ravaged by the blaze. Another fire, started by lightning in the Vall d’Ebo area of ​​Valencia on Saturday evening, devastated 11,500 hectares.

Much of western Europe has seen wildfires during a long summer of sweltering heat waves. Human-induced climate change has triggered more frequent and intense heat waves and the world has already warmed by around 1.1°C since the start of the industrial era.

Valencia region chief Ximo Puig said high winds had caused “huge disruption” and the Bejís fire had now spread south to Alcublas. He said the sheer scale of the two fires had made them very difficult to control, but hoped rain due in the area later would help stabilize them.

Spain has suffered nearly 400 wildfires so far in 2022 and seen 275,836 hectares burned, according to EU estimates.

Rail travelers were also caught up in a Spanish wildfire last month, when a train stopped at Zamora in the northwest. The train operator said they had never been in danger. —BBC

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