Europe battles wildfires in extreme heat

In Spain, helicopters dropped water on the flames as the heat exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the often mountainous terrain made it difficult for firefighters.

Shocked residents watching thick plumes of smoke rising from the central western Jerte Valley said the heat makes their previously green and cool home more like Spain’s semi-arid south.

“Climate change affects everyone,” said local resident Miguel Angel Tamayo.

A study published in June in the journal Environmental Research: Climate concluded that it is highly likely that climate change is exacerbating heatwaves.

At least 1,000 deaths have been linked to the heat wave in Portugal and Spain. Temperatures in Spain reached 45.7 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) during an almost week-long heat wave.

The Spanish meteorological agency issued temperature warnings for Sunday, with a maximum of 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) forecast for Aragon, Navarre and La Rioja in the north. It said the heatwave would end on Monday, but warned that temperatures would remain “anomalously high.”

On Sunday afternoon, fires raged in several other regions, including Castile and León in central Spain and Galicia in the north. In the province of Malaga in southern Spain, wildfires raged overnight, affecting local residents near Mijas, a city popular with tourists from Northern Europe.

British pensioners William and Ellen McCurdy, along with other evacuees, fled their home to a local sports center on Saturday as the fire approached.

“It was very fast… I didn’t take it too seriously. I thought they had the situation under control and I was very surprised when it seemed to be moving in our direction,” William, 68, told Reuters.

“We just grabbed a few essentials and just ran, and by this point everyone on the street was on the move,” Ellen said.

Firefighters work to put out a blaze near Louche, France, where the national meteorological agency has issued an extreme heat warning.

In France, wildfires have now engulfed more than 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the southwestern Gironde region, and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated, regional authorities said Sunday afternoon.

More than 1,200 firefighters were trying to control the blaze, authorities said in a statement.

France has declared the highest possible red alert level for several regions, while urging residents to “be extremely vigilant.”

In Italy, where small fires have flared up in recent days, forecasters expect temperatures in several regions to top 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the coming days.

Similar temperatures are forecast for the UK on Monday and Tuesday, surpassing the previous official record of 38.7 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) set in Cambridge in 2019.

The British national weather forecaster has issued the first ‘extreme heat’ red warning for parts of England. Train passengers have been advised to travel only when absolutely necessary and to expect widespread delays and flight cancellations.

Hundreds dead in Portugal

Portugal is battling a severe drought as planes fight wildfires in Urem, north of Lisbon.

Portugal’s health ministry said late on Saturday that 659 people had died in the past seven days due to extreme heat, most of them elderly. It said the weekly peak of 440 deaths came on Thursday, when temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in several regions and 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) at a weather station in the Viseu district in the center of the country. .

There were 360 ​​heat-related deaths in Spain by Saturday, according to the Carlos III Health Institute.

Portugal is battling severe drought: According to the National Meteorological Institute, 96% of the country’s mainland was in severe or extreme drought in late June, prior to the recent heat wave.

Commander of the Office of Emergency Management and Civil Protection Andre Fernandez urged people to be careful not to start new fires in such dry conditions.

In Greece, the fire brigade said on Saturday that 71 fires had broken out in 24 hours. Representatives of the local fire service on the island of Crete said on Sunday that the fire raging in forests and farmland was partially contained.

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