Heat wave and drought: Southern Europe battles wildfires


As of 07/13/2022 9:24 PM

Forest fires erupted in parts of southern Europe and Turkey due to prolonged drought and heat. An improvement is not in sight – on the contrary. Possibly one of the longest heat waves in decades.

Extreme and prolonged temperatures in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy have led to numerous wildfires. In Spain, the current worst fire continues to erupt in the municipality of Las Hurdes near the border with Portugal. The fires have already destroyed about 3,500 hectares there.

The Aemet weather service has issued an alert for 16 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions: This year’s second heat wave is likely to be one of the longest since records began in 1975. It must be particularly hot with temperatures as high as 44 degrees in Andalusia in the south and Extremadura in the west. There, on the border with Portugal, more than 400 people were evacuated due to a forest fire.

Near Madrid, seawater is drawn from the air to fight a fire.

Photo: AP

dead man in portugal

In the neighboring country of Portugal, firefighters and civil defense have also fought forest fires, sometimes with temperatures above 40 degrees – especially in the center of the country. A woman died in a fire in the village of Mortosa.

In the morning, more than 1,500 firefighters were battling four major fires in the municipalities of Leiria, Pombal and Orem, about a hundred kilometers north of Lisbon. A total of 600 people were taken to safety, and about 120 of them had to be treated medically, according to the Civil Protection. Officials said 96 percent of Portugal was experiencing severe or severe drought at the end of June.

Firefighting helicopter crashes in Samos

A forest fire also broke out on the Greek island of Samos in the west, near the town of Paleochori. As reported by the online portal Samos Voice, 14 fire trucks, three firefighting planes and two firefighting helicopters were deployed to put out the flames. The fire was still under control by evening. Two towns were evacuated as a precaution.

According to Greek media, one of the helicopters crashed during the mission as it was about to draw water from the sea. Accordingly, there were four passengers on board. The pilot could have been rescued alive by the Coast Guard and taken to hospital. Two other prisoners were found dead, according to the media, and the search for the fourth was still in the evening.

Due to the severe drought, the fire brigade declared the second highest alert level for forest fires for several islands in the eastern Aegean, as well as for the Attica region around Athens and the large islands of Epoya and Crete. Already on Tuesday, 35 fires were reported across the country within 24 hours.

Evacuations in France

On the French Atlantic coast, emergency services have moved thousands of people to safety from the spreading flames. In Test du Buch, south of Bordeaux, five camp sites have been evacuated as a precaution. 6,000 people have been moved to other places, according to Gironde county. Temperatures are expected to reach 37 degrees in the region.

France also uses firefighting aircraft.

Photo: AFP

The fires have now fallen victim to more than 1,200 hectares of land. They are preferred by prolonged drought and high temperatures. The high temperature warning level is announced in orange. According to the county, more than 600 firefighters were involved in fighting the fires. Emergency services from other parts of France are also expected to provide support.

Italy fights fire from the air

In Italy, the fire brigade is fighting, among other things, in the border area between Tuscany and Liguria against the flames on a hard-to-reach hill, the Tuscan authorities announced. Two helicopters and six units of different forces are on site. Increased winds may fan the flames in the area.

There is also a fire in Turkey

Forest fires also broke out again in Turkey. The Turkish Forestry Authority on the southwestern island of Datca, which is popular with holidaymakers, said eight firefighting planes, 14 helicopters and more than 100 fire engines were working to put out the flames. Several houses had to be evacuated and no injuries were reported so far. Also in Izmir province, many firefighters are working due to forest fires.


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