Spanish fires: Passengers injured fleeing train in Bejís


MADRID — Ten passengers were hurt, three seriously, when they tried to escape a train that became caught up in a sweeping wildfire northwest of Valencia in eastern Spain.

The fire near Bejís has been whipped up by fierce 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 halt.

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

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

Some of those who fled suffered burns and one was airlifted to hospital for treatment in Valencia. Those with the worst burns were a 58-year-old woman and a girl aged 15, Spanish reports said.

No-one who stayed on the train was hurt.

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

The driver eventually moved to the back of the train and retreated to the nearby station of Caudiel. Passengers who had fled along the tracks rejoined the train and those who were injured received initial treatment there.

More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from Bejís and neighbouring towns.

The Castellón fire brigade shared video of firefighters fleeing flames several meters in height as the wind changed and threatened their lives.

“Run, run!” they can be heard shouting as the fire surrounds them.

Firefighters fear as many as 6,000 hectares (60 km sq) of land has been ravaged by the fire. Another blaze, started by lightning in the Vall d’Ebo area of Valencia late on Saturday, has devastated 11,500 hectares.

Much of Western Europe has seen forest fires during a long summer of sweltering heatwaves. Human-induced climate change has triggered more frequent and more intense heatwaves and the world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began.

Valencia regional leader Ximo Puig said high winds had caused “tremendous disruption” and that 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 that rain due in the area later would help to stabilise them.

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

Rail passengers were also caught up in a Spanish wildfire last month, when a train came to a halt in Zamora in the north-west. The rail operator said they were never in danger. — BBC

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