A pile of chicken manure is believed to have spontaneously combusted Wednesday in Spain, sparking a wildfire that has killed hundreds of sheep and other animals and forced some 50 people from their homes. Authorities believe the manure on a farm in the Catalonia village of Torre de l'Espanyol wasn't properly stored when it self-ignited in the midst of a European heatwave. USA Today surfaces a 2016 Wired article that explains microbes in manure consume organic material then release a lot of heat—in this case, enough heat for ignition. The fire has so far burned 16,000 acres, an area 19 times the size of Central Park, reports the Local. But some 50,000 acres are under threat as the fire continues to rage, with steep terrain and strong winds complicating efforts to bring it under control.
The heatwave isn't helping, either. Temperatures have been hovering around 104 degrees and were expected to hit 108 degrees on Friday. It'll be the heatwave's "hottest day … and the situation will be critical," warns regional president Quim Torra. Some 350 firefighters, 230 soldiers, and 15 aerial tanker aircraft are continuing to battle the blaze, which destroyed at least one farm in Torre de l'Espanyol. More than 200 sheep, two horses, and a donkey were killed, according to an AFP photographer who captured the charred bodies, per the Local. Some of the people evacuated from their homes, many of whom reported escaping only with the clothes on their backs, are being housed at a local school. (Poop previously caught fire in New York.)