Source AP ©

Forest fires break out in northeast Spain

A forest fire has started in a section of the Mediterranean coast in northeastern Spain.

Over 3,000 people had been evacuated from their homes and from a beach campsite in Mont-roig del Camp, Jordi Saura, environment spokesman for the regional government of Tarragona told reporters.

Fanned by strong winds, more than 250 hectares (618 acres) of forest and brush-land had burned, forcing the closure of the A7 coastal highway and rail connections, Saura said.

At least five persons had been treated for burns and smoke inhalation, Saura said.

Firefighters had scrambled 17 aircraft equipped to transport water to help combat the flames.

Television images on CNN+ news channel showed long traffic queues with thick, black smoke in the background.

Every summer Spain and neighboring Portugal lose large stretches of forest to fires, many deliberately lit.

Fires charred 35,870 hectares (88,635 acres) in Spain in the 2006 season, down from 94,445 hectares (233,370 acres) in 2005, according to Environment Ministry figures.