Wildfires rage in France and Spain as heatwaves sweep Europe | U.S. & World

By Lily Forudi and Sergio Goncalves

PARIS/LISBON (Reuters) – Wildfires in southwestern France and Spain forced thousands to evacuate their homes on Saturday, as intense summer temperatures prompted authorities to stay alert in parts of Europe.

More than 12,200 people were evacuated from France’s Gironde region as more than 1,000 firefighters battled to contain the blaze, regional authorities said in a statement.

“We have a fire that will continue to spread as long as it is not controlled,” Vincent Ferrier, the 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, with nearly 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) burning in the Gironde region on Saturday, up from 7,300 hectares on Friday.

In neighboring Spain, firefighters were battling a series of blazes on Saturday after days of unusually high temperatures of up to 45.7 degrees Celsius (114 Fahrenheit).

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.

Several were taken to the regional sports center.

British pensioner John Pretty, 83, said: “The police were driving up and down the road with sirens and everyone was being told to leave. Just get out. There is no guidance on where to go

“It’s scary … because you don’t know what’s going on,” said 68-year-old Belgian resident Jean-Marie Vandelanotte.

Elsewhere in Spain, fires were burning in the Extremadura region, near the border with Portugal, and in the central Castile and León region, where members of the Spanish military’s emergency services were deployed to tackle the blazes.

There was some respite for firefighters in Portugal, where temperatures across much of the country dropped on Saturday after reaching nearly 40C (104F) in recent days.

“We have a big fire and we don’t want it to rekindle … we will be very careful this weekend,” Andre Fernandez, commander of the emergency and civil protection authority, told reporters.

A total of 39,550 hectares (98,000 acres) were destroyed by wildfires from early to mid-June. He showed.

Nearly two-thirds of the area has been burned by wildfires in the past week.

Portugal’s health ministry said 238 people died in the heat wave between July 7 and 13, most of them elderly people with chronic illnesses.

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.

The highest recorded temperature in Britain was 38.7C (101.7F), recorded in Cambridge on July 25, 2019.

(By Lily Farudi in Paris, Sergio Gonclaves in Lisbon and Jessica Jones and Michael Holden in London; Writing by Helen Popper; Reporting by Frances Carey)

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