Fires scorch France and Spain as temperature-related deaths in European heat wave

Paris – Firefighters struggled on Sunday to control wildfires in France and Spain as Europe hit an unusually high peak a heat wave that officials link to an increase in the higher death rate.

Two huge fires that engulfed pine forests south of the city of Bordeaux in southwest France for six days have forced the evacuation of nearly 14,000 people, many of whom were set to spend their holidays at the camp.

In Spain, firefighters backed by the armed forces’ emergency brigades are trying to stamp out more than 30 fires in forests spread across the country. Spain’s national defense department said most of its firefighters had been deployed. Many areas are rugged, mountainous terrain, making it difficult for ground crew to reach.

There have been no fire deaths in France or Spain so far. A pilot was killed when a firefighter plane crashed in Portugal on Friday.

But as temperatures remain unusually high, heat-related deaths have increased.

A second heat wave in Spain has sustained high levels above 40 °C (104 °F) in many areas. According to Spain’s Carlos III Institute, which records temperature-related deaths daily, 237 deaths from July 10-14 were attributed to high temperatures. This was compared to 25 temperature-related deaths in the past five days.

A fire at La Teste-de-Buch off the Atlantic coast in France has forced 10,000 people to flee. The Gironde regional government said on Sunday that “the situation remains unfavorable” due to strong winds, coupled with hot and dry conditions, which have intensified overnight.

Members of the public observe a fire from La Teste-de-Buch in southwestern France on July 16, 2022.

GAIZKA IROZ/AFP via Getty Images

A second fire near the town of Landiras, south of a valley of Bordeaux vineyards, forced authorities to evacuate 4,100 people this week, including about 1,900 on Saturday. Officials said a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) stretch of white sand dumping one flank has been brought under control. However, another flank remains uncontrolled.

Some of the most worrying blazes in Spain are concentrated in the western regions of Extremadura and Castilla y León. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlasca announced a joint command that would coordinate efforts to fight active fires in the surrounding areas.

Firefighters have not been able to stop the fire near the town of Casares that threatens Monfrague National Park and has prevented 200 people from returning to their homes.

Another fire in southern Spain near the city of Málaga has forced the evacuation of 2,500 people. There are more fires near the central city of vila in north-west Galicia, among other areas.

Hungary, Croatia and the Greek island of Crete have also battled wildfires this week, as have happened in Morocco and California.

Scorching temperatures have reached the north of Britain, where its weather agency has issued its first “red warning” of extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures in southern England could reach 40 °C (104 F) for the first time. Is. ,

It will still be relatively tolerable compared to the 47 C (117 F) recorded in Portugal’s northern city of Pinhao on Wednesday, setting a new national record.

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