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A large wildfire in northeast Spain grew rapidly overnight and was burning out of control Sunday, forcing the evacuation of eight villages and 1,500 people in Zaragoza province, firefighters said.

The head of the local Aragon government, Javier Lamban, said Sunday that the situation was critical in the town of Añon de Moncayo and the priority for the 300 firefighters fighting the blaze was to protect human lives and villages.

The wildfire, which was declared Saturday, developed a 50-kilometre perimeter in less than 24 hours, the local forest chief said.

Those who fled took shelter in three different sports centres in nearby towns.

Firefighters said the outlook for taming the blaze depends on the weather, but gusty winds up to 60 kilometres were predicted.

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