Wildfires scorch parts of Europe amid extreme heatwave

A spate of wildfires is scorching parts of Europe, with firefighters battling blazes in Portugal, Spain and southern France.

n Portugal, Civil Protection commander Andre Fernandes said that multiple fires have caused the evacuation of more than 600 people.

About 120 people needed medical treatment, with two people — one civilian and one firefighter — suffering serious injuries, Mr Fernandes said.

Water-dumping planes helped 1,300 firefighters combat the worst of the blazes in the nation’s central area, while another 1,000 worked to bring other fires under control.


Wildfires forced the evacuation of dozens of people from their homes in Portugal (Joao Henriques/PA)

A European heatwave is also sparking flames in Spain and France — and in Turkey at the other end of the Mediterranean.

More than 800 firefighters battled two wildfires in the region outside Bordeaux in south-west France, according to the regional emergency service.

The fires began on Tuesday near the towns of Landiras and La Teste-de-Buch, and firefighters had not been able to contain them by Wednesday morning.

About 6,500 people have been evacuated from campgrounds and villages in the forested area. The number of injuries is unclear. The two fires have destroyed more than 1,800 hectares (4,400 acres) of terrain, the emergency service said.

Images from firefighters showed flames racing through thickets of trees and grassland, fanned by strong winds, and smoke blackening the horizon.

The regional administration banned activity in forested areas at risk.


A child fills up a bottle at a water fountain in the Champ de Mars park, near the Eiffel Tower, on a warm day (Thomas Padilla/AP)

Several regions in southern France are on fire alert because of hot, dry weather and high winds. Wildfires swept through the Gard region in south-east France last week.

Portugal has long experienced fatal forest fires. In 2017, wildfires killed more than 100 people. No one has died from a wildfire since then as Portugal improved its forest management and firefighting strategies.

Last year, Portugal recorded its lowest number of wildfires since 2011. But a mass of hot and dry air blown in by African winds are driving temperatures in the Iberian Peninsula beyond their usual highs.

The Atlantic country, which has been on alert of wildfires since last week, is sweltering under a spike in temperatures that is forecast to send thermometers in the central Alentejo region to 46C (115F) on Wednesday and Thursday.

Authorities said that 96% of the country was classified at the end of June as being in either “extreme” or “severe” drought.

More than 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) had been consumed alone in the district of Leiria, just north of Lisbon, Mayor Goncalo Lopes told Portuguese state broadcaster RTP.


A woman fills buckets with water for local residents trying to stop a forest fire from reaching their homes in the village of Figueiras, outside Leiria, central Portugal (Joao Henriques/AP)

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who cancelled a trip abroad to deal with the emergency, said that better care of woodlands and abandoned farmland was key to protecting them.

“In 2017 the country realised that having enough firefighters is essential, but it is not enough,” Mr Costa said.

“We have to get to the root of the problem … The abandonment of property and its non-management is one of the biggest risk factors for forest fires.”

Neighbouring Spain hit highs of 43C (109.4F) in several southern cities on Tuesday.

Over 400 people were evacuated on Tuesday because of a wildfire that has consumed 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) in western Spain.

European Union officials issued a warning last week that climate change is behind the extremely dry and hot summer so far on the continent, urging local authorities to brace for wildfires.

Cayetano Torres, spokesman for Spain’s national weather forecaster, said that the “unusual” heatwave and lack of rainfall in recent months has created ideal circumstances for fires.

“These are perfect conditions for the propagation of fires, which when you add to that some wind, you have guaranteed propagation,” he said.

In south-western Turkey, a blaze erupted in an area close to the village of Mesudiye, near the Aegean Sea resort of Datca, and was moving in the direction of some homes in the area, according to the provincial governor’s office.

It said at least nine water-dropping helicopters and five planes were deployed to battle the fire.

Last summer, blazes that were fed by strong winds and scorching temperatures tore through forests in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions.

The wildfires, which killed at least eight people and countless animals, were described as the worst in Turkey’s history.

Source link

About admin

Leave a Reply