Forest fires rage in scorching south-west Europe – Newspaper

MADRID: Firefighters struggled to contain wildfires raging across southwestern Europe on Sunday as a heat wave showed no sign of abating, with Britain set to set new temperature records this week.

Fires in France, Greece, Portugal and Spain have destroyed thousands of hectares of land, forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and holidaymakers and killed dozens of emergency workers since last week.

It is the second heat wave to hit parts of South West Europe in weeks.

Scientists blame climate change and predict more frequent and severe weather events such as heat waves and droughts.

Firefighters in France’s southwestern Gironde region have been battling a forest fire that has burned nearly 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) since Tuesday.

The wildfire forced more than 14,000 people – residents and tourists combined – to evacuate their camps. Seven emergency shelters have been set up to accommodate evacuees.

Meteo France forecast temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of southern France on Sunday, with new records expected on Monday.

“The heat is getting stronger. The heat wave is spreading across the country,” the weather office said.

France has put 15 departments, mainly on the west coast, on red alert – the highest level – and 51 were on orange alert on Sunday.

The Grand Hotel Dieu, a chapel adjacent to the historic hospital in the southeastern city of Lyon, offered accommodation to tourists, including Jean-Marc, who was visiting from Alsace on Sunday.

“We came back to admire the place but we couldn’t go out, it’s too hot outside. We pray before the fire! he shouted.

Officials in the French Alps have urged skiers heading to Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, to postpone their trip due to frequent rockfalls caused by “unusual weather” and “drought”.

The call comes after Italy’s biggest Alpine glacier killed 11 people earlier this month – with climate change blamed.

Spanish authorities say about 20 wildfires are still out of control in various parts of the country, from the south to Galicia in the far northwest, and have destroyed 4,500 hectares of land.

Another fire from the southern coastal city of Malaga has destroyed nearly 2,000 hectares of land, local officials said.

The fire forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate, but about 2,000 people were allowed to return to their homes.

Firefighters, who are being supported by 18 water-dropping aircraft, said the area’s steep slopes, combined with strong winds and low humidity, were complicating their fight against the blaze.

“We didn’t stop working all night,” regional Agriculture Minister Carmen Crespo told Spanish public television of efforts to put out the fire.

Spain’s National Meteorological Office, AEMET, is forecasting “very high” temperatures for most of Spain and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean on Sunday.

The eastern city of Don Benito recorded Spain’s highest temperature on Sunday, with the mercury reaching 43.4C.

A 60-year-old street cleaner in Madrid died of heat stroke last day, local authorities said.

The battle to contain the blaze claimed the lives of several emergency workers.

In Portugal, after hitting 47C – a July record – on Thursday, almost the entire country is on alert for wildfires, despite a slight drop in temperatures. Only one large fire was burning in the north on Sunday.

The fire killed two people, injured about 60 and destroyed 12,000 to 15,000 hectares of land in Portugal.

Greece’s civil defense has brought wildfires to the Mediterranean island of Crete since it was seized on Friday. In the United Kingdom, the Met Office has issued the first “red” warning for high temperatures, warning that there is a “danger to life”.

The Met Office said temperatures in southern England could top 40C for the first time on Monday or Tuesday, prompting some schools to close next week.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has advised people in the capital to use public transport only “if absolutely necessary”. National rail operators have also warned passengers to avoid travel.

Organizers of a four-day rally in the Netherlands canceled the first day of the rally, which was due to start on Tuesday, due to extreme heat.

The mercury is set to reach 38C in parts of the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Published on July 18, 2022 at dawn

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