HIGH WINDS HAMPER EFFORTS TO FIGHT FOREST FIRE ON OUTSKIRTS OF SANT ELMTHE cold temperatures and high winds played havoc with ferry links and emergency services yesterday while driving many people off the streets and into the warmth. The fast ferry Federico García Lorca, operated by shipping company Balearia, was forced to return to Palma by high seas and gale force winds after setting sail for Ibiza. The ferry set sail at 8am, but just before 10am was forced to turn back to Palma. Ferry services were disrupted throughout the day and shipping companies will be keeping a close eye on the weather for the next few days, with passengers advised to contact their ferry company to confirm departure times. In Sant Elm, Andratx, the high winds hampered fire fighters as they battled a forest fire yesterday afternoon. Just after 8pm, fire chiefs said that the blaze was under control, but the gale force winds fuelled the fire for three hours, despite efforts of fire fighters, the forestry protection service and the Guardia Civil. At one point flames were raging just 200 metres away from the town. The cause of the fire remained unconfirmed last night, but the forestry protection department said that the blaze had destroyed some 2'000 square metres of land and that a small team of fire fighters would remain at the scene overnight to make sure that further high winds do not fan the flames all over again. Elsewhere, the day was a bitterly cold one. At 4pm yesterday in some parts the temperature had fallen to around 2ºC, although overnight in many parts the temperature dropped to near freezing with high winds adding to the wind chill factor. Little improvement is forecast for today with more storms, high winds and snow as low as 600 metres. However, the snow line will continue to fall, as will the temperatures, fuelling a huge surge in demand for electricity and gas all over again, with snow forecast as low as 100 metres tomorrow and Saturday, with a freezing weekend on the horizon. Winds will be north to north easterly and moderate to strong with gusts of 80 kilometres expected. Yesterday gusts of over 60 kilometres per hour were reported in the north of Majorca and in most parts of Minorca.
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