Soaring temperatures sees wildfires putting homes at risk in parts of Europe

Strong winds and hot, dry weather frustrated the efforts of French firefighters to contain a large wildfire burning through pine forests in the Bordeaux region for a fifth day on Saturday, one of several across Europe in recent days.

The pilot of the firefighting plane died in Portugal after it crashed during an operation in the northeast on Friday.

More than 160 people have been injured and hundreds have been forced to evacuate cities this week, the first death in Portugal’s wildfires this year.

Fire season has hit parts of Europe earlier than usual this year after an unusually dry and warm spring that officials attribute to climate change.

About 3,000 firefighters, supported by water jets, are battling the blaze in southern France, while Greece has sent firefighting equipment.

More than 11,000 people have been displaced from villages and camps.

Firefighters have brought one of the worst fires under control overnight near the Atlantic beach resort of Arcachon, popular with tourists from Europe, the region’s emergency services announced Saturday.

But he added that “strong meteorological conditions” had hampered efforts to contain the biggest fire in the region’s Landras town, south of the Bordeaux vineyard valley.

“They are focusing their efforts on using firefighting equipment to surround the villages in danger and save as many houses as possible,” Charles Lafourcade, who is overseeing the firefighting process, told reporters at the scene.

The two fires have burned at least 9,650 hectares (23,800 acres) in recent days.

A similar scene is playing out in Portugal, where more than 3,000 firefighters are battling with ordinary citizens to save their homes from several wildfires caused by extreme heat and drought.

The country’s civil protection agency said on Friday that 10 fires were still burning.

Portuguese state television RTP reported on Friday that the area burned this year exceeded the total for 2021. More than 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of land have burned, most of it in the past week.

In southern Andalusia, Spain, 3,000 people have been evacuated from villages threatened by fires near the village of Mijas in Malaga province. About 200 firefighters, supported by 18 aircraft, tried to control the blaze. Authorities were investigating the cause.

For a sixth day, firefighters were still trying to control a blaze sparked by lightning in the west-central Las Hurdes area. On Friday, about 400 people from eight villages feared the fire could spread to nearby Monfrage National Park as it approached their homes.

Croatia and Hungary also battled wildfires this week, as did California and Morocco. Many European countries are experiencing exceptional heat this month due to climate change.

Portuguese authorities said on Wednesday that the northern city of Pinhão recorded a national high of 47C for July.

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