Several countries in southern Europe are battling devastating forest fires on Sunday, as a result of a heat wave that could break several temperature records early next week.
In the southwest of France, the mobilization of firefighters to tackle the fires has not weakened, especially in the Gironde, where 10,500 hectares of forest have turned into a zone of smoke since Tuesday, against the backdrop of a general heat wave.
Wildfires are still raging in the Gironde region. [SDIS33 – Keystone]Temperatures could reach 40 degrees inland, according to Météo-France, which has put 37 departments under an orange “heatwave” watch this Sunday.
For now, in the tourist basin of Arcachon on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, even during the nights from Saturday to Sunday, the Gironde province said, “Many fires again threatened the camps of Dun du Pilate, which had to be evacuated from their guards”, making possible efforts to slow down the fire’s progress.
In all, more than 14,000 residents and holidaymakers have had to pack their bags in a hurry since Tuesday. Seven emergency accommodation centers and one medical-psychological emergency room were opened to support victims.
>> Read More: France, Spain, Portugal, forest fires continue to cause great damage
Peace in Portugal
Portugal, for its part, is experiencing a slowdown on the fire front. A large focus near the city of Chaves in the north of the country is considered active and “practically under control” over 90% of its perimeter, according to Portuguese civil protection.
Nevertheless, almost all Portuguese territories gave a “maximum”, “very high” or “extreme” risk of fire on Sunday, especially in the central and northern interior regions.
Fires out of control in SpainA plane flies over a forest fire in Andalusia. [Alvaro Cabrera – Keystone/EPA]
In Spain, about 20 wildfires are still raging and out of control in different parts of the country, from south to northwest Galicia, where fires have so far destroyed 4,400 hectares this week, officials said.
Only 300 of the 3,000 were allowed to return to their homes on Sunday.
UK red alert
Further north in Europe, in the UK, the National Weather Service has issued its first ‘red’ warning for extreme heat, warning of ‘danger to life’.
Temperatures in southern England will top 40 degrees for the first time on Monday or Tuesday, the Met Office said.
>> Details on fire risk by Michael Reinhardt, head of the Forestry Division of the Federal Office for the Environment, at the Forum:
>> Read More: Switzerland is taking precautions against forest fires
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