(LONDON) – Wildfires continue to rage across Europe as an unprecedented heat wave and drought threatens firefighting efforts in some regions.
56 forest fires broke out in Greece in the last 24 hours, the country’s fire service announced on Wednesday.
Firefighters are battling two large blazes near Athens but most of the outbreaks are under control, the Greek Fire Service said in a statement.
One – in Penteli, on the northern outskirts of Athens – has so far burned 20,350 acres, local media reported.
About 100,000 residents were told to leave areas in and around Penteli on Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday. This includes the hospital.
The second major wildfire started in Megara, a small town west of Athens. About 100 firefighters, dozens of fire trucks, planes and helicopters were dispatched to the scene, fire officials said Wednesday.
Authorities have not yet released the cause of the fire.
Temperatures in Athens are expected to reach 94 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, with the National Fire Service issuing a dangerous fire warning for Athens for the province of Attica. Several states in the Peloponnese region; The island of Evia, where a devastating wildfire broke out last year; and the islands of Chios, Samos and Ikaria.
Portugal, Spain and Italy have been battling several wildfires in the heat.
In Portugal, authorities extended the fire warning until Thursday as several fires burned across the country, including in the Murqua region, where high temperatures and strong winds made fighting the blazes a challenge.
Spain has seen dozens of wildfires in recent weeks. Firefighters are currently battling 12 active fires in Spain, with more than 1,200 personnel responding, state officials said Wednesday.
A fire in northeastern Aragon has caused a train company to suspend train services on the Madrid-Zaragoza line.
A fire near the Tuscan city of Lucca has burned more than 1,400 hectares and forced the evacuation of about 500 people in Italy, where wildfires have raged across the country this week, officials said.
High temperatures and winds are affecting efforts to put out fires in France in recent days, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced and some 2,000 firefighters are battling fires in the southwestern Gironde region. Two firefighters were seriously injured battling the wildfire on Tuesday, officials said.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the affected region on Wednesday to tour the devastation and meet with firefighters. Climate change, which scientists say will make wildfires more frequent and devastating, will force France and the European Union to “take structural decisions,” Reuters reported.
In the UK, London has been battling massive blazes amid extremely hot weather.
Wednesday was the busiest day for the city’s fire service since World War II, officials said, with firefighters responding to more than 1,146 incidents in London.
More than 40 homes and stores were destroyed “after several significant grass fires spread to nearby buildings,” the London Fire Brigade said. Crews worked tirelessly to tackle the blaze, which involved garages, farm buildings, vehicles, buildings, a car wash and a church hall.
Although 16 firefighters suffered heat-related injuries, no deaths were reported, officials said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter Wednesday: “We can’t get any more of these days.” “We must fix our cities and fight the climate crisis to stop these terrible events.”
ABC News reporter Christine Theodore contributed to this report.
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