Wildfires scorch France and Spain as heatwave-related deaths soar

A plane caught fire near La Teste-de-Buch in southwestern France.
A plane caught fire near La Teste-de-Buch in southwestern France.

Firefighters battled to contain an out-of-control wildfire in France and Spain as Europe was gripped by a severe heat wave on Sunday, which authorities linked to a rise in deaths.

Two huge fires have forced nearly 14,000 people to evacuate their homes after six days of burning pine forests south of the city of Bordeaux in southwestern France. Many of them were made to spend their vacations in camps.

Firefighters in Spain, supported by the army’s emergency brigades, are trying to put out more than 30 fires burning across the country.

A firefighter tackles a wildfire near Landras in southwestern France (SDIS 33/AP)

Spain’s Department of National Defense said many of the firefighting planes were in rugged and hilly terrain, making it difficult for ground crews to reach them.

So far, there have been no fire-related deaths in France or Spain. The pilot of a firefighting plane in Portugal has died after his plane crashed on Friday.

But heat-related deaths have increased as temperatures have risen unusually high.

In Spain, the second heat wave of the summer has soared above 40C (104F) in many areas.

According to Spain’s Carlos Three Institute, which records daily heat-related deaths, 237 people died in the heat from July 10 to 14, and 25 in the last five days.

A wildfire in La Teste-de-Buch, near France’s Atlantic coast, has forced 10,000 people to flee.

Strong winds and hot, dry weather are frustrating the efforts of French firefighters to contain a massive wildfire in the Bordeaux region (SDIS 33/AP).

The Gironde regional government said on Sunday that “the situation is not favorable” due to the strong winds, combined with hot and dry conditions, which fueled more fires overnight.

A second fire near the town of Landras, south of Bordeaux’s vineyards, has forced authorities to evacuate 4,100 people this week, including about 1,900 on Saturday.

Officials said one side was controlled by dumping white sand over a distance of 1.2 miles (2km). The other stem remains unexamined.

The most serious fires in Spain are concentrated in western Extremadura and Castilla y León.

The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlasca, announced a joint command to coordinate the efforts to fight the fire in neighboring regions.

Firefighters have been unable to contain a blaze near the town of Cáceres that is threatening Monfrage National Park and has kept 200 people from returning to their homes.

A wildfire is spreading through a residential area in Alajarín de la Torre, Malaga, Spain (Gregorio Marrero/AP).

Another fire near the city of Malaga in southern Spain forced the evacuation of another 2,500 people. There are more fires near the central city of Ávila and elsewhere in northwest Galicia.

Hungary, Croatia and the Greek island of Crete battled wildfires this week, as did Morocco and California.

It has reached as far north as the UK, where the Met Office has issued its first “red warning” for extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday, where temperatures could reach 40C (104F) in southern England. time.

That’s still relatively bearable compared to the 47C (117F) recorded in the northern Portuguese city of Pinhão on Wednesday, which set a new national record.

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