New wildfires in Greece as Europe braces for more heat

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Battered by severe storms, firefighters in Greece struggled Wednesday to contain new blazes around the capital Athens as other countries in southern Europe assessed damage from the latest severe heat wave and prepared to rebuild. Burning temperatures. Two new blazes broke out west of Athens as around-the-clock efforts to contain the blaze swept through the city’s outskirts, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents. Greece’s Minister of Civil Protection and Climate Change, Christos Stylianides, said: “New fires are spreading as we look at the situation caused by climate change.” “The conditions we are working in are very damaging. Wind gusts exceeded 110 kilometers per hour (68 mph) in some areas. Fires were burning across southern Europe on Wednesday, but authorities in France, Spain and Portugal reported that conditions had improved following a break in the heat. French President Emmanuel Macron visited the hard-hit Gironde region in the southwest and met with firefighters who have been battling the blaze for a week. .

“You saved lives,” Macron said as he shook hands with firefighters lined up at the regional fire department.

Marc Vermeulen, head of the Gironde fire brigade, briefed the president on their efforts to control the fire.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said, adding that the 20-year-old pines were “exploding with intense heat.”

Greece was spared the heat wave that hit western European countries including the UK this week, but fire officials said weeks of hot and dry conditions this summer, as well as long periods of rising temperatures, had increased the overall risk. Forest fires. At least two people in the Greek capital were hospitalized with breathing problems and minor burns. Helicopters lifted the pumped water into outdoor tanks near houses on the hillsides before climbing into thick smoke to bring the water down.

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Cooler weather has given firefighters in Spain and Portugal some respite, but temperatures are forecast to rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the coming days.

According to the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Thalas, more frequent and severe heat waves are an inevitable consequence of climate change. “In the future, these types of heat waves will become normal. We will see stronger extremes. We have poured too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the negative trend will continue for decades,” said Talas. I hope this will be a wake-up call for governments. European crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic was in Slovenia, an Italian watercraft and an Austrian helicopter joined troops and firefighters in the area of ​​Kras, which quickly spread from neighboring Italy. On the Italian side, houses were evacuated and part of a major highway was closed. As the worst drought in decades drags on, dry vegetation is helping to fuel the fire. Another fire broke out in the Lucca region of Tuscany, Italian state radio reported. A fire in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region has destroyed 85 homes and displaced 1,400 people. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the area late Tuesday and warned that “difficult days are coming here in Galicia and in the rest of Spain.”

Portugal’s health ministry said the country’s excess death toll rose to 1,065 between July 7 and 18. Officials attributed the heat wave to high temperatures and said more heat deaths are likely in the coming days as high temperatures return.

___ Surc reports from Nice, France. Lefteris Pitarakis in Drafi, Greece; Raquel Redondo in Madrid; Barry Hutton in Lisbon, Portugal; Contributed by John Lester in Paris, Giovanna Geck in Belgrade and Francis DeMlio in Rome.


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