Europe still struggling with fires under the effects of the heat wave

Several western European countries continued to battle devastating forest fires on Sunday, the result of a long-lasting heat wave that could break several temperature records early next week.

This heat wave is the second in barely a month in Europe. The multiplication of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.

In the south-west of France, the mobilization of firefighters did not weaken, particularly in Gironde where nearly 11,000 hectares of forest have gone up in smoke since Tuesday, in a context of generalized heat wave where temperatures of more than 40 degrees were expected. locally on Sunday. Météo-France has placed 15 departments in the west of the country on red “heat wave” vigilance, a sign of an extreme heat peak.

“The heat is growing, the heat wave is spreading over the country”, warns the public meteorological establishment.

Monday promises to be “the hottest for the west of the country”, forecasts Météo-France, which expects the 40 degree mark to still be reached in several regions, in Brittany, Basse- Normandy, Aquitaine and western Occitania.

For now, in the tourist area of ​​Arcachon, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the progression of the fire has slowed down, even if during the night from Saturday to Sunday “several times of fire threatened the campsites of the dune du Pilat, who had to be evacuated from their guards, “said the Gironde prefecture on Twitter.

In the Teste-de-Buch sector, the situation “remains unfavorable”, however indicated the prefecture on Sunday noon, even if the fire has made little progress in this area, going from 3,200 to 3,400 hectares up in smoke.

Further inland, towards Landiras, the fire also progressed less than the previous night, going from 7,000 to 7,200 hectares burned, thanks to “the lighting of tactical fires and the creation of firewalls”, according to the firefighters.

In total, more than 14,000 residents and vacationers have had to pack their bags urgently since Tuesday.

Up to 42° in Spain

In Spain, around 20 forest fires are still raging and remain out of control in different parts of the country, from the south to the far northwest in Galicia, where the fires have so far destroyed around 4,400 hectares. of land this week, authorities said.

Only 300 of the 3,000 people evacuated preventively near Malaga, in the far south, were authorized to return to their homes on Sunday.

The Spanish Meteorological Agency predicted “significantly high” temperatures over most of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean on Sunday, with mercury expected to reach up to 42 degrees in the northern city of Logroño, and 40 degrees in Madrid and Seville in the south.

On Sunday, Portugal, on the other hand, experienced a lull on the fire front and for the first time since July 8, temperatures should not exceed 40 degrees there.

A single large focus, near the municipality of Chaves in the far north of the country, was considered active and “virtually under control” over 90% of its perimeter according to Portuguese civil protection.

Nevertheless, almost all of Portuguese territory presented a “maximum”, “very high” or “high” risk to fires on Sunday, in particular the central and northern interior regions.

According to the latest known report from the Portuguese authorities, the fires of the last week have left two dead and around sixty injured. They have ravaged between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares of forest and brush since the start of the heat wave.

In Greece, a fire that broke out on Friday morning in Crete, causing the preventive evacuation of seven villages in a rural area of ​​the prefecture of Rethymno, was now under control.

UK red alert

Further north in Europe, in the UK, the national weather agency has issued the first-ever ‘red’ alert for extreme heat, warning of a ‘risk to life’. The Met Office said temperatures in southern England could top 40 degrees for the first time on Monday or Tuesday.

In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Sunday a National Heat Plan and a smog alert in force from Monday across the country, forecasting a rise in temperatures in the next few days, up to 35 degrees Monday in the south and up to 38 degrees in some places Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the world, extreme temperatures have also caused forest fires, particularly in northern Morocco where one person died and half of the approximately 4,660 hectares affected went up in smoke.

Western Canada is also affected, a fire ravaging since Thursday the region of Lytton, northeast of Vancouver, already devastated last year by a historic heat wave and devastating fires.

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