Thousands of firefighters are battling wildfires in Portugal, Spain and southwest France, amid a heatwave that shows no sign of abating.
A pilot was killed when a plane crashed in Foz Coa, near the Spanish border, in northern Portugal.
Fires are raging in France’s Gironde region, where more than 12,000 people have been evacuated.
About 2,300 people had to flee a wildfire in the Mijas hills near the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.
On the coast of Torremolinos, revelers saw huge plumes of smoke billowing from the hills where several planes were tackling the blaze.
Ashley Baker, a Briton who lives in Mijas, southern Spain, told the BBC the fire was more dangerous on Friday but the wind had since blown it away.
Helicopters are on their way to shore collecting seawater to put out the fire, while planes are dropping fire retardant.
“There’s about 40 houses in our area, everybody was really worried and they were standing outside or standing on their porches watching it,” Baker said.
“Even now there is fire on the top of the mountains. He went away from here, I was very relieved. It’s scary when you live in the hills – all the road signs are giving you updates on high fire hazards.
Meanwhile, near France’s southwest Atlantic coast, a local resident described the forest fires as feeling “post-apocalyptic”.
“I’ve never seen this before,” Karin, who lives near Teste-de-Buch, told news agency AFP.
There and south of Bordeaux, the fire has destroyed nearly 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres). About 3,000 firefighters are battling the blaze.
Christophe Nader and his son-in-law are now in a shelter near Teste-de-Buch after they were forced to leave their home in the village of Cazaux with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing. He told the BBC he was hoping to get back there to save their cat. Hundreds of other cots from the disaster zone are in temporary shelters.
“Everything went so fast – the fire was big, big, big,” 27-year-old Manon Jacquart told the BBC. She was kicked out of the camp where she was working on Wednesday morning and is sleeping in a shelter near La Teste-de-Buch on the west coast of France.
“I’m worried, I’m scared… I’m trying to be as strong as I can but I’m not okay… I want to forget this week,” she said.
Since Tuesday, temperatures have soared to 47C in Portugal and over 40C in Spain, leaving the countryside bone-dry and the fires raging. More than 300 people have died from the heat in both countries, Spain’s Efe news agency reported.
The Portuguese pilot who died was flying solo in a Fire Boss amphibious aircraft.
Portugal’s fire areas are located in the north – east of the city of Porto. Fires have destroyed 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land this year – 100 people have died since the summer of 2017 when Portugal was hit by devastating fires.
Gemma Suarez, a displaced Spanish farmer from Casas de Miravet, wept as she told Reuters news agency: “What a night. We didn’t sleep all night.
“An elderly social worker came to pick up my uncle. We spent the night at Navalmoral but did not get any sleep. I have never seen such a big fire.
Other areas of the Mediterranean are also affected. The Italian government has declared a state of emergency in the parched Po Valley – the country’s longest river is inundated in some places.
In Greece, firefighters are battling fires in the area of Feriza, about 50 kilometers southeast of Athens, and near Rethymno on Crete’s northern coast. Seven villages near Rethymno were evacuated.
In northern Morocco, several villages had to be evacuated as fires broke out in the provinces of Larache, Ouazzan, Taza and Tetouan. A village near Ksar El Kabir was completely destroyed and at least one person died in the fire.
France also has temperatures of around 40C and expects more next week, with 16 units under orange warning for severe weather.
The head of the French Federation of Fire Fighters has warned of the impact of global warming on civil protection. “Firefighters, civil safety are dealing with the damage every day – and these impacts are not in 2030, they are now,” Gregory Allien said.
Due to human-induced climate change, heat waves have become more frequent, more intense and longer. The world has warmed by about 1.1C since the start of the industrial age and will continue to rise unless global governments raise carbon emissions.