Spanish wildfire kills three

A wildfire whipped up by strong winds in northeastern Spain left three people dead Sunday and about 100 people injured and forced thousands of residents to remain indoors, officials said.

A 60-year-old man and his 15-year-old daughter drowned after after they threw themselves into the sea to escape the approaching flames near the town of Portbou just across the border with France, the Catalan government said.

An elderly man died from a heart attack as he helped battle the flames near his home in the town of Llers, it added in a statement.

A French man suffered burns to 80 percent of his body after his car became surrounded by flames and was taken to a Barcelona hospital.

About 100 people were lighly injured because of the wildfire, a spokesman for Catalan firefighters said, adding the situation is "very serious".

The blaze broke out just after noon on Sunday near the town of La Jonquera just across the border with France and has so far destroyed about 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres) of land, the Catalan government said.

"The fire advanced really quickly, in a way that makes it difficult to bring under control," the Catalan regional government's interior minister, Felip Puig, told reporters.

About 80 firefighting brigades from Spain and France were fighting the wildfire, which was fanned by low air humidity levels and winds of up to 90 kilometres (55 miles) and hour.

The blaze sent thick clouds of smoke into the air in the region.

"Due to the intensity of the wind the eight aircraft which were sent to the area have not been able to drop water on the flames," the Catalan government said in a statement.

Firefighters ordered residents of nine area towns, including La Jonquera and Biure, which are home to over 7,000 residents to remain indoors with their windows and doors shut.

Catalan police said 93 people, including 74 children, were evacuated from a camp near the town of Sant Climent Sescebes and taken to a nearby military base as a precaution.

Several area roads and highways were closed, including the road linking Figueres to the French city of Perpignan in France as well as a high-speed rail link between Spain and France.

Over 4,000 people were without power in Spain because of the blaze, Catalan emergency services said.

Spain is at higher risk of forest fires than ever this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years.

The worst fire ravaged 50,000 hectares in the eastern Spanish region of Valencia earlier this month.

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