Firefighters in Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco are battling forest fires raging across tens of thousands of hectares as this week’s heatwave continues to bring extreme temperatures and cause hundreds of deaths across south-western Europe.
Thousands of firefighters are continuing to battle wildfires in Portugal, Spain and France, as a heatwave shows no sign of easing.
Fires are ravaging areas of France’s south-western Gironde region, where over 12,000 people have been evacuated.
Heatwaves have become more frequent, more intense, and last longer because of human-induced climate change. The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to carbon emissions. The civil defense authorities, however, took advantage of a slight drop in temperatures after a July record of 47C on Thursday to try to stamp out one remaining major fire in the north of the country.
The fires have scorched thousands of hectares in the south-western Spanish region of Extremadura, where one fire was started on purpose, according to Pedro Muñoz, head of forest policy for the regional government.
Portugal’s fire hotspots are in the north – east of the city of Porto. Fires have destroyed 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land this year – the largest area since the summer of 2017, when Portugal suffered devastating fires in which some 100 people died.
Other parts of the Mediterranean are affected too. In Italy, the government has declared a state of emergency in the desiccated Po Valley – the country’s longest river is no more than a trickle in some places.
In Greece, firefighters are tackling blazes in the Feriza area, about 50km (31 miles) south-east of Athens, and near Rethymno, on the north coast of Crete. Seven villages have been evacuated near Rethymno.
In northern Morocco, several villages had to be evacuated as fires swept through the Larache, Ouezzane, Taza and Tetouan provinces. One village was totally destroyed in the Ksar El Kebir area and at least one person died in a blaze.