Wildfires Rage Across Southern Europe as Climate Alarm Sounded

Emergency services battled wildfires in parts of southern Europe on Wednesday as London warned that the fight against climate change needs to be stepped up after Britain’s hottest day.

Fires fueled by high winds in the mountains north of Athens forced the evacuation of hundreds of people, including hospital patients, and fuel tankers escaped from a forest fire near the Tuscan city of Lucca in central Italy.

A severe heat wave, blamed by scientists and climatologists for global warming, swept across southern Europe last week. Although the brutal heatwave has subsided, mercury readings have started to rise again in Portugal and Spain.

Armando Silva, the civil protection chief of Portugal’s northern region, said rising temperatures and strong winds were making it difficult to fight the country’s largest wildfire, which has burned 10,000-12,000 hectares (38-46 square miles) in and around the municipality of Murca since Sunday.

In Spain, emergency workers are battling fires in five regions, while the national weather service AEMET is also predicting high temperatures.

Wildfires have been burning in many parts of Italy, with 14 cities including Rome, Milan and Florence under the country’s worst heat wave warning on Thursday, which is due at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

Temperatures are expected to reach 40C in northern and central areas this week, forecasters said.

The mark was Britain’s first on Tuesday, breaking the country’s previous record high of 1.6 degrees.

Britain’s Met Office Chief Science and Technology Officer Stephen Belcher said if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, the country could see the same heat wave every three years.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a member of the opposition Labor Party, issued a similar warning.

“The sad reality is that this is the future of London and the UK if we don’t act hard now on the climate crisis,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke said Tuesday’s “amazing, unprecedented” record served as a “reminder of the importance of tackling climate change”.

British engineers raced to repair railway tracks trapped in the heat on Wednesday as firefighters worked through the night to put out a wildfire in London on Tuesday, its busiest day since World War II.

High wind

Further south on mainland Europe, massive wildfires continue to rage.

A thick cloud of smoke darkened the sky over Mount Penteli, 27 kilometers north of Athens, Greece, as nearly 500 firefighters, 120 fire engines and 15 water-carrying planes tried and continued to control the blaze that broke out on Tuesday. To burn on several fronts.

Authorities said they had evacuated nine settlements. A hospital and the National Observatory of Athens were also evacuated and police rescued at least 600 residents from areas hit by the fire.

“Due to the strength and speed of the wind, the fire will change direction throughout the night,” Fire Ministry spokesman Yannis Artopios said in a televised statement.

Strong storms are forecast to continue through Wednesday afternoon.

Last year, wildfires destroyed 300,000 acres (about 470 square miles) of forest and scrubland in the country’s worst heat wave in 30 years.

Firefighters in Italy’s central Tuscany region battled a wildfire near the city of Lucca that has destroyed 560 hectares (2.15 square miles) of forest for a third day, officials said.

The fire raged through the night, forcing the evacuation of about 500 people, reaching some villages and causing some liquefied gas tanks to explode, regional governor Eugenio Gianni said on Twitter. “Because of the wind, some fronts have strengthened,” he added.

Residents have been urged to stay indoors after a wildfire broke out on Tuesday in the Carso area of ​​the northeastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region, which borders Croatia and Slovenia.

State-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri was forced to close its factory in the port city of Monfalcone, which employs 3,000 people.

In France, where firefighters in the southwestern Gironde region have been battling massive forest fires since July 12, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said more money was needed to deal with such disasters.

“We have to face a very special situation,” he said, referring to the damage in Brittany and southern France.

President Emmanuel Macron was due to visit the Gironde region on Wednesday as France’s heat moved eastward, with improved weather conditions helping to control the fires, local officials said.

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