50,000 trapped in beachfront town and Iberian lynx released from captivity as Huelva fire rages on

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Jose Pino/Twitter

FIRE FIGHTERS have failed to control the fire which broke out in Moguer, Huelva, on Saturday night due to strong winds, with the blaze advancing rapidly in several directions amid suspicions of arson.

Around 50,000 people have been trapped in the beachfront town of Matalscañas, while flames threaten to engulf the heart of Doñana National Park.

Managers of the Iberian lynx breeding centre at El Acebuche were forced to take extreme action by releasing adult animals into the wild and evacuating their offspring to a separate facility, potentially destroying years of work with the critically-endangered species.

Tourists staying at the Parador de Mazagon and Solvasa hotels and Doñana and Cuesta de la Barca campsites were among those forced to flee, as were staff at the National Institute of Aerospace technology and around 500 immigrants inhabiting a nearby slum settlement.

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Hundreds of residents have also been affected, with the town of Mazagon “practically empty of people” according to the fire brigade, who have received more than 740 calls.

Emergency services thought they were gaining the upper hand this morning, but by midday 90 km/h gusts of wind saw the blaze advancing at a rate of 3-4 km/h.

A total of 550 fire fighters are currently batting the flames, as Andalucia President Susana Diaz confirmed after arriving at the scene that arson has not been ruled out.

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