The fires in La Teste-de-Buch forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 people; During this time, many flock to the nearby Atlantic beach area for vacations. French authorities have closed many areas of that beach to the public because of the fire, including La Lagune and Petit Nice beaches, where the fire broke out on Sunday, and Dun du Pilat, Europe’s longest sand dune.
The Gironde regional government said Sunday afternoon that “the situation is not very favorable” due to strong winds that fueled more fires overnight.
A second wildfire near the town of Landiras forced authorities to evacuate 4,100 people this week. As the officials announced, it was controlled on one side by throwing white sand at a distance of two kilometers. The other stem remains unexamined.
People forced to flee have shared their concerns with local media about their abandoned homes, and local authorities have organized special trips to bring back pets, some of whom have left behind in the rush to safety.
In total, the two fires burned more than 100 square kilometers of land.
Emergency officials warned Monday that high temperatures and winds would complicate efforts to contain the blaze.
“We have to be very careful and very humble, because the day is going to be very hot. We don’t have any favorable weather window,” regional fire official Eric Florence said on France Bleu radio on Sunday.
Some of the most serious fires in Spain are concentrated in the western regions of Extremadura and Castilla y León. Over the sun-baked forested hills, a dark haze of smoke has become commonplace in the sparsely populated countryside.
Drought conditions in the Iberian Peninsula make it particularly vulnerable to wildfires. Since last October, Spain has accumulated 25 percent less rain than what is considered normal – and some areas have received 75 percent less than normal, the Department of Homeland Security said.
While some of the fires were caused by lightning strikes and others by human negligence, the fire in the Lagarganta de los Infiernos or “Hell’s Throat” natural reserve in Extremadura was caused by arson, regional authorities said.
Firefighters have been unable to contain a blaze near the city of Cáceres that is threatening the Monfrague National Park and has forced 200 people to return to their homes. Another fire near the city of Malaga in southern Spain prompted the evacuation of another 2,500 people.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Monday that he would travel to Extramadura to visit the worst-hit areas.
Hungary, Croatia and the Greek island of Crete battled wildfires this week, as did Morocco and California. Italy is at the start of summer combined with the worst drought in the north in 70 years – conditions linked to the recent disaster, when the Marmolada glacier erupted and killed dozens of hikers.
The intense heat has also reached northern Europe. The annual four-day walking event in the Dutch city of Nijmegen said on Sunday it would cancel the first day scheduled for Tuesday as temperatures are expected to soar to around 39 degrees Celsius.
Britain’s Met Office has issued its first “red warning” for extreme heat in southern England on Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures could reach 40 degrees for the first time.
Tracy Nicholls, chief executive of the College of Paramedics, warned on Sunday that the “horrendous heat” would “ultimately end in people dying”.
AP with Reuters