As many as 1,000 people are reported to have been evacuated from villas along the Spanish coast after a forest fire spread to tourist areas near Benidorm.

Images showed flames rising above treetops in Xabia, south of Valencia, after the blaze broke out on Sunday.

Evacuees were moved to nearby schools, restaurants or hostels, with at least 20 homes apparently destroyed by the fire, broadcaster RTVE said.

Police were investigating the cause of the fire, which has been described as suspicious, Sky News reported.

 The area is popular with tourists and has seen high temperatures which are expected to last into next week.

Homes in Benitatxell, Tossalet and Cansalades were also evacuated after the flames moved nearby, according to local police.

Firefighters had earlier thought the fire was under control, El Mundo newspaper reported, but new outbreaks began.

Aircraft have been brought in to tackle the fires, which were still burning overnight.