Parts of Western Europe continued to battle devastating forest fires this weekend as a result of a heat wave. A heat wave could break several temperature records early next week.
In southwest France, the mobilization of firefighters to tackle the blazes has not weakened, particularly in the Gironde, where almost 10,000 hectares of forest have been smoldering since Tuesday, amid a general heat wave that will see temperatures reach 40°. C Domesticly, it has put 38 sectors on orange alert, according to Météo-France.
In the tourist basin of Arcachon, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, efforts have slowed the fire’s progress. “This evening, in La Teste-de-Puch, 3200 hectares were burned against 3150 this morning, the perimeter is almost stable, but the fire is not completely under control,” Arcachon’s deputy chief announced to the press in the evening. .
Further inland, fires continue to advance in two small towns and have now burned “more than 7,000 hectares,” according to officials. In total, the fire, which mobilizes more than a thousand firefighters, has led to the evacuation of more than 14,000 people since Tuesday.
Peace on the Iberian Peninsula
Portugal has been enjoying a relative calm, with only one major fire active in the north of the country on Saturday. The fire appeared to be waning in intensity by early afternoon, AFP reporters at the scene reported. While the wooded hill from which the white smoke billowed was inaccessible to firefighters, firefighting helicopter operations were able to contain the flames at this point.
Earlier in the day, a water bomber fighting a forest fire in Garda (north) crashed, killing the pilot. According to the Portuguese Civil Defense, two people died and sixty were injured in the fire that broke out last week. According to his estimate, the fire has destroyed 12,000 to 15,000 hectares of forest and brush since the heat wave began.
In Spain, dozens of fires were still burning from north to south of the country. In the Extremadura region on the Portuguese border, a section of the A5 highway linking Madrid to the Portuguese border has reopened to traffic after being closed for more than twelve hours due to the inferno.
In the far south, in Andalusia, a fire near Malaga forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people, according to Andalusian emergency services. In Greece, firefighters battled an explosion Friday morning that forced the evacuation of seven villages in a rural area of Rethymno province on the island of Crete.
Spain’s Meteorological Agency kept the entire country under different high temperature warning levels on Saturday, with values exceeding 40oC in many areas and up to 44oC in places. In Portugal, only the southern Algarve is without a heat warning. Elsewhere in the country, the Meteorological Department has forecast temperatures of up to 42 degrees Celsius at some places on Saturday.
UK red alert
Further north in Europe, in England, a crisis committee of British government ministers was due to meet on Saturday as the National Weather Service issued its first ‘red’ warning for extreme heat, warning of a ‘danger to life’. . Temperatures above 40C for the first time in southern England on Monday or Tuesday, the Met Office said.
Elsewhere in the world, extreme temperatures have also fueled wildfires, particularly in northern Morocco where one person died and half of the affected 4,660 hectares were left smoldering.
Western Canada is also affected, with fires burning since Thursday in the Lytton area, northeast of Vancouver, already ravaged by a historic heat wave and devastating fires last year. The fire burned 1500 hectares of forest and brush, destroyed several homes and caused evacuations.
This heat wave is the second in a month in Europe. The proliferation of these events is a direct result of global warming, which increases the intensity, duration and frequency of greenhouse gas emissions.
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