Forest fires are raging in France and Spain, heat is sweeping Europe

Forest fires are raging in France and Spain, heat is sweeping Europe
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  • Forest fires are raging in southwestern France and Spain
  • Health officials say hundreds have died from the heat
  • The UK emergency committee will meet after the weather warning

PARIS/LISBON, July 16 (Reuters) – Wildfires raged across southwestern France and Spain on Saturday, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes as summer temperatures put authorities on alert in parts of Europe.

About 14,000 people were evacuated from France’s Gironde region on Saturday afternoon as more than 1,200 firefighters battled the blaze, regional officials said. read more

Vincent Ferrier, deputy prefect for Langon in the Gironde, told a news conference: “Our fire will continue to spread until it is stabilized.”

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Wildfires that have swept France as well as other European countries including Portugal and Spain in recent weeks burned more than 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) in the Gironde region on Saturday, up from 7,300 hectares on Friday.

In the latest weather warning, 38 of France’s 96 departments have been placed under an “orange” alert and residents of those areas have been urged to be vigilant. The heatwave in western France is expected to peak on Monday, with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

In neighboring Spain, firefighters were battling a number of fires after unusually high temperatures reached 45.7 C (114 F) on Saturday.

According to the Carlos III Health Institute, the nearly week-long heat wave caused 360 heat-related deaths.

The region’s emergency services tweeted early Saturday that more than 3,000 people had been evacuated from their homes due to a large forest fire near the northern European tourist town of Mijas in Malaga province.

Many were taken to the provincial sports center for shelter.

British pensioner John Pretty, 83, said: “Police drove up and down the road with sirens on and everyone was told to go. Just go. No instructions on where to go.”

“It’s scary … because you don’t know what’s going on,” said Belgian resident Jean-Marie Vandelanotte, 68.

Elsewhere in Spain, thick plumes of black smoke billowed near Casas de Miravete in the Extremadura region as helicopters dropped water on a blaze burning 3,000 hectares, forcing the evacuation of two villages and threatening to reach the Monfrague national park.

Fires were also raging in central Castile and León and northern Galicia.

There was some respite for firefighters in Portugal, where temperatures dropped across most of the country on Saturday after reaching around 40 C (104 F) in recent days.

“We’ve had big fires and we don’t want them to reactivate… We’ll be on extra alert this weekend,” Andre Fernandes, commander of the Emergency and Civil Protection Department, told reporters.

A total of 39,550 hectares (98,000 acres) were destroyed by wildfires between the beginning of the year and mid-June, more than triple the area destroyed by fires during the same period last year, according to the Nature and Forestry Institute. showed.

Almost two-thirds of that area has been burned by fires in the past week.

Portugal’s Ministry of Health announced that 238 people died as a result of the heat from July 7 to 13, most of them elderly people with underlying diseases.


Across the Mediterranean from Europe, fires in Morocco have destroyed more than 2,000 hectares of forest in the northern regions of Larache, Ouazzane, Taza and Tetouane, killing at least one person, local authorities said.

More than 1,000 households were evacuated from their villages and water planes helped put out most of the fires on Friday night, although firefighters were still struggling to put out three hot spots near Larache.

In Britain, the national forecaster issued the first red “extremely hot” warning for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday.

The government’s emergency response committee was due to meet later on Saturday as possible record-breaking temperatures are expected.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Britain was 38.7 C (101.7 F) recorded in Cambridge on 25 July 2019.

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By Layli Faroudi in Paris, Sergio Gonclaves in Lisbon, Mariano Valladolid and Jon Nazca Malaga, Ahmed Eljechtimi Rabat and Jessica Jones and Michael Holden Writing by Helen Popper in London Editing by Frances Carrey and Christina Fincher

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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