Wildfires forced thousands to evacuate their homes in southwestern France and Spain on Saturday, as extreme temperatures lashed parts of Europe.
About 14,000 people were evacuated from France’s Gironde region Saturday afternoon as more than 1,200 firefighters battled the blaze, regional officials said in a statement.
“We have a fire that will continue to spread until it is calmed down,” Vincent Ferrier, deputy governor of Langone in the Gironde, told a news conference.
Wildfires have ravaged France in recent weeks, as well as other European countries, including Portugal and Spain.
In the latest weather warning, 38 of France’s 96 departments were listed on an “orange” alert, with residents urged to remain vigilant. Temperatures are expected to peak in western France on Monday, with temperatures above 104 degrees.
In neighboring Spain, firefighters battled a series of blazes on Saturday after days of unusually high temperatures of up to 114 degrees.
According to data from the Carlos III Health Institute, 360 people have died of heat-related illnesses in the week-long heat wave.
More than 3,000 people have been displaced by a large wildfire near Mijas in Malaga province, popular with northern European tourists, the region’s emergency services tweeted early Saturday.
Many were taken to a regional sports center.
“The police drove down the road with their sirens on and everyone was told to get out. Just leave it alone. There is no guidance on where to go,” said John Pretty, an 83-year-old British retiree.
Elsewhere in Spain, helicopters dropped water on a blaze that burned 3,000 hectares, forcing the evacuation of two villages and sending thick black plumes of smoke into the air near Casas de Miravet in the Extremadura region, as it reached Monfrage National Park.
Fires were raging in central Castile and Leon and northern Galicia.
A total of 98,000 hectares of land have been destroyed by wildfires since the beginning of the year through mid-June, more than three times the area burned during the same period last year, according to the Nature and Forestry Institute.
In Britain, the National Weather Service issued its first red “extreme heat” warning for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday.
With record-breaking temperatures expected, the state’s emergency response committee was scheduled to meet later Saturday.
with post wires