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Learning English - Words in the News
18 July, 2005 - Published 11:54 GMT
Spain forest fire
Helicopters tackle the blaze

At least twelve volunteer firefighters have died in Spain in a forest fire in the central province of Guadalajara and hundreds of people have been forced to leave the area. This report from Marian Hens:

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The firefighters, many in their early twenties, had gone out in two groups to battle the blaze but their efforts were hampered by strong winds and summer temperatures of up to forty degrees Celsius.

The local authorities in the central Guadalajara province say three people are still missing. The blaze, which is not yet under control, has destroyed five- thousand hectares of pine woodland and forced hundreds of villagers to leave their homes.

The authorities believe it could have been started by a barbecue which had not been put out properly and have announced that they will be questioning suspects in the morning.

The Spanish deputy prime minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, has gone to the region and met angry locals. They're complaining about the lack of resources to fight this kind of catastrophe.

Forest fires are common in Spain during the summer months but this year the problem has become more acute due to the heatwave and the worst drought the country has experienced since the forties.

Marian Hens, BBC, Madrid

Listen to the words

in their early twenties
aged between 20 years and 25 years

to battle the blaze
to try to stop the fire

local authorities
the people who have responsibility for a particular part of a country

not yet under control
not dealt with completely, so the fire is still burning and very dangerous

pine woodland
an area of land full of pine trees (very tall trees with leaves like needles)

put out
stop something burning (and often cool it down so that it doesn’t cause something else to catch fire)

the people who live in a particular area

the problem has become more acute
the problem is much more difficult than usual

due to
because of (usually a negative reason)

a period of unusually hot weather

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