Europe wildfires: Pilot dies in Portugal, blazes force evacuations in France and Spain | News | DW

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A pilot died fighting a fire in Portugal on Friday, as hundreds were evacuated from Spain and France.

A powerful heat wave has ravaged European cities with authorities issuing heat wave warnings in the coming days.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa tweeted about the pilot’s death, saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the incident and “sends his deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

The pilot died Friday when his water bomber crashed while battling a fire in a northern Portuguese city, officials said.

Although medical services quickly arrived at the scene of the accident at 8:00 pm (700 pm UTC), authorities said he died at the scene.

Portugal has battled at least 17 fires and one person has died.

Five districts in Portugal were on red alert as of Friday and more than 1,000 firefighters were battling at least 17 blazes, officials said.

Temperatures are expected to drop slightly on Friday, but are expected to top 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in some places in the coming days, officials said.

As of late Thursday, the fire had killed one person and injured about 60.

Burned in France, Spain

Wildfires continue to rage in southwestern France, officials said Friday.

This shows firefighters using a hose reel jet to fight a wildfire near Landras in southwestern France from the Gironde Regional Fire Brigade (SDIS 33).

Firefighters battle a blaze near Landras in southwestern France.

More than 1,000 firefighters, supported by nine water-bombing aircraft, have been battling two large fires since Tuesday.

The fire has now burned 7,300 hectares and burned 2,000 hectares overnight, officials said Thursday.

A wildfire that broke out near the southeastern town of Tarascon last Thursday and burned at least 1,000 hectares has been contained, fire officials said.

Fires have forced the evacuation of nearly 10,000 people in France since Tuesday, many of them vacationers.

Temperatures soared in Spain, with some places recording 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) as of 7 a.m. Thursday.

At least 20 fires are still burning near the city of Mijas on Spain’s southeast coast, officials said, forcing the evacuation of about 2,300 people.

A fire also broke out on Thursday near Monfrage National Park, a sanctuary famous for its wildlife.

The mercury breached 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) in Spain on Thursday, as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted that he was closely monitoring the blaze and the danger it posed.

Climate change is to blame.

Scientists have repeatedly called attention to the rapid pace of climate change for severe and frequent wildfires in Europe and around the world.

The World Meteorological Organization warned on Friday that warmer temperatures, especially in cities and towns, could worsen air quality.

A WMO official said in a press release on Friday that “the thin atmosphere acts as a lid to trap atmospheric pollutants” and has led to “deterioration of air quality and negative effects on the health of particularly vulnerable people”.

rm/wd (Reuters, AP, AFP)



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