Southern Europe battles wildfires as heatwave spreads north

  • Britain’s hottest day on record.
  • In the southern parts of Europe, the temperature starts to decrease
  • According to scientists, the heat wave is consistent with climate change
  • Firefighters are still fighting to bring the wildfire under control.

MADRID/LEBON July 18 (Reuters) – A heatwave in southern Europe that has killed hundreds of people in recent weeks showed signs of easing on Monday but continued to move north, including into Britain where authorities have issued severe weather warnings.

Much of Europe is baking in a heat wave that scientists say is consistent with climate change and has pushed temperatures into the mid-40s Celsius (above 110 Fahrenheit) in some regions, while wildfires are raging in dry countryside in Portugal, Spain and France. Read more

Temperatures in parts of southern Europe began to cool over the weekend, but thousands of firefighters across the region are still battling hundreds of wildfires, and officials say the risk of more blazes remains high.

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Spain on Monday suffered the eighth and final day of a heat wave that has lasted more than a week, resulting in more than 510 heat-related deaths, according to estimates from the Carlos III Health Institute.

Spain mourned the death of a firefighter in the northwestern state of Zamora on Sunday evening as fires burned thousands of hectares in Galicia, Castile and León, Catalonia, Extramadura and Andalusia. Almost the entire country is under severe fire danger.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a condolence message posted on Twitter on Sunday night: “There are no words to thank the great work of those relentlessly fighting the fire.”

More than 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) have burned so far in Spain, which is the worst year of the last decade, according to official data. Last month, 30,000 hectares of land were destroyed by wildfires in the Sierra de la Culebra, Castile and León.

Spain reported its second death from wildfires after a firefighter died on Sunday. A 69-year-old man was found dead in a burning Ferreruela on Monday, emergency officials said. Local media said he was a farmer.

The Portuguese Meteorological Institute (IPMA) said the risk of wildfires is very high in most parts of the country, despite temperatures dropping in Portugal over the weekend.

More than 1,000 firefighters, supported by 285 vehicles and 14 aircraft, were fighting nine consecutive wildfires, mainly in the northern regions of the country, officials said.

National emergencies

Belgium and Germany are among the countries expected to be hit by a heat wave in the coming days.

Britain was in for its hottest day on record on Monday, with temperatures forecast to hit 40 Celsius (F) for the first time, train companies canceling services, schools closing early and ministers urging people to stay indoors.

In the year Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday in 2019 are expected to exceed the 38.7C (102F) recorded at Cambridge University’s Botanic Gardens, prompting the government to trigger a “national emergency” warning. Read more

Dr Nikos Christidis, climate identification scientist at the Met Office, said: “We were hoping we wouldn’t get to this point, but for the first time in the UK we are forecast to be over 40C.”

“Climate change has affected the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. The chance of seeing 40C days in the UK is 10 times greater than in the current climate if the natural climate was not affected by human influence,” he said. .

A wildfire has spread to 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in France’s southwestern Gironde region, prompting the evacuation of more than 14,000 people, regional officials said Sunday afternoon.

More than 1,200 firefighters were trying to control the fire, the official said in a statement.

France has issued red alerts for as many regions as possible, urging residents to be “extremely vigilant”.

In Italy, where small fires have been raging in recent days, forecasters are expecting temperatures above 40C in several regions in the coming days.

Switzerland was also affected by the heat wave. Expo, the operator of Beznau’s nuclear plant, said on Monday it had been forced to reduce production to prevent the Are River from heating up the frozen water it draws from.

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Reuters bureaus report; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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