Record-breaking summer of wildfires in EU after hot spring

Strong winds and hot weather have frustrated the efforts of French firefighters to control massive wildfires in the Bordeaux region for the fifth day in a row.

It is one of several wildfires burning across Europe this week.

Some of the worst wildfires to date have occurred in Portugal, where the pilot of a firefighting plane died on Friday after his plane crashed while operating in the northeast.

It was the first fire-related death in Portugal this year. The fires have injured more than 160 people this week and displaced hundreds more.

The burning season has fallen earlier than usual in parts of Europe; An unusually dry spring has left the soil dry. Climate change is playing a role, officials said.

Around 11,000 people have been evacuated as the worst fire in France approaches.

Images shared by firefighters showed several pine trees on fire and black smoke billowing from the horizon.

Firefighters on Saturday focused their efforts on using fire trucks to surround villages at risk, Charles Lafourcade, the firefighter in charge of the French operation, told reporters.

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

According to the regional emergency service, French firefighters managed to contain one of the fires that broke out overnight near the Atlantic beach resort of Arcachon.

He added that “strong meteorological conditions” hampered efforts to contain the biggest fire in the region’s Landras town, south of the Bordeaux vineyard valley. The district attorney is suspected of arson.

The two fires have burned at least 9,650 hectares in recent days.

Between January 1 and July 16, a total of 346,000 hectares of forest were burned in the EU.

According to the European Commission’s European Forest Fire Information System, the area burned is three times the average of the past 16 years.

In Portugal, more than 1,000 firefighters worked with ordinary citizens trying to save their homes as they battled several blazes around the country on Saturday. The fire was fueled by unusually high temperatures and drought conditions.

Portuguese state television RTP reported on Friday that the area burned this year – more than 30,000 hectares – has already exceeded the total for 2021. Much of it burned last week.

Across the border, Spain was struggling to contain several fires, including two that burned about 7,400 hectares.

3,000 people have been evacuated after a fire broke out near the village of Mijas in Malaga province in southern Andalusia. 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. About 400 people from eight villages were evacuated on Friday as the fire approached their homes and could spread to the nearby Monfrage National Park.

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.

Heat-related deaths have soared in Spain this week as temperatures soared above 40 degrees Celsius in several areas. According to Spain’s Carlos III Institute, which records daily heat-related deaths, 237 people died in the July 10-14 heat wave. That compares to 25 heat-related deaths last week.

Portuguese authorities said on Wednesday that the northern city of Pinhao had a July national record high of 47C.

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