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Three dead, key road reopens as firefighters battle wildfire on Spanish side of border with France

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Reuters/Santiago Ferrero

French authorities say the forest fires fanned by strong winds in Spain's Catalonia region are now under control on the French side of the border and a key highway between Perpignan and Barcelona, the A9, has now re opened


A spokesman for the fire fighting brigade in Catalonia said that six water-bombing planes have been deployed to try to douse the flames and a further six are to join them.
The road through the principality of Andorra is currently still open.

Europe Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France was mobilising resources including water bombers to try to help, now that the strong winds which prevented their use yesterday have calmed.

"We have complete and total solidarity with Spain because there is a common
border and it is customary to help and provide resources," he added.

A Frenchman and his 15-year-old daughter drowned on Sunday 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 regional government said.

A 75-year-old Frenchman died of a heart attack as he watched his house become consumed by flames in the town of Llers.

The fire, whipped up by winds of up to 90 kilometres an hour, ravaged up to 13,000 hectares Spanish officials said, leaving twenty-one people injured, seven of them seriously. Up to 4,000 people are living without power.

The blaze broke out just after noon on Sunday near the town of La Jonquera close to the the border with France, the Catalan government said.

In the early hours of Monday enormous plumes of black smoke, spread by the strong wind, hung over the Jonquera region as about 80 brigades from Spain and France tried to fight the wildfire.

Firefighters ordered residents of nine 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.

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