MADRID - Some 300 firefighters spent a difficult night battling a huge wildfire in southeastern Spain that has burnt through nearly 10,000 hectares in an area notoriously difficult to access, officials said Tuesday.

The fire began when lightning hit the Vall de Ebo area in the province of Alicante late Saturday and has since spread rapidly, fuelled by strong winds, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 people, Valencia’s regional government said.

“At the moment, we are talking about more than 9,500 hectares (235,000 acres) burnt with a perimeter of 65 kilometres (40 miles),” regional president Ximo Puig said late Monday, describing the blaze as “absolutely huge”. “It’s a very complicated situation... The fire is creating enormous difficulties that are absolutely impossible to tackle with the speed we would like.”

Regional interior minister Gabriela Bravo told Antena 3 television some 300 firefighters were battling the flames, backed by 24 planes and helicopters.

Firefighters else where in the region were also battling two other wildfires north of Valencia city, with hundreds of firefighters and at least 10 firefighting planes engaged in the operation, officials said. Further north, firefighters in the Aragon region were battling another major blaze that broke out Saturday and has burnt more than 6,000 hectares of land, forcing at least 1,500 people from their homes. Meanwhile, a huge wildfire in central Portugal that raged for a week in a UNESCO-designated natural park and was finally brought under control on Friday night.