Western Europe hit by wildfires and heatwave

Western Europe is suffocating. Crushed by a heatwave that has caused devastating wildfires and which forecasters say could smash several temperature records early next week.

In the south-west of France, the mobilization of firefighters did not weaken on Saturday to fix the fires , and particularly in Gironde , where nearly 9,000 hectares of forest have gone up in smoke since Tuesday, in a context of generalized heat wave where temperatures could reach 40°C locally, according to Météo-France . These fires, which mobilize a thousand firefighters, have since Tuesday resulted in the evacuation of 10,000 people.

Portugal also fights against the fire

Portugal was experiencing a relative calm, with only one major fire still active on Saturday, in the north of the country, between the municipalities of Baião and Amarante . In the middle of the day, the fire progressed there at least on a front, on the side of a wooded hill in this hilly region located upstream of the Douro River.

The day before, a water bomber plane which was fighting a forest fire in the region of Guarda (north) crashed, causing the death of the pilot, its sole occupant. According to a report from the Portuguese civil protection, the fires of the last week have left two dead and around sixty injured. According to his estimates, these fires have ravaged, since the start of the heat wave , between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares of forest and brush.

Dozens of fires in Spain

In Spain , dozens of fires were still raging from north to south of the country. In the region of Extremadura, bordering Portugal, an outbreak of “unfavorable development”, according to the regional government, led to the closure of a section of the A5 motorway on Saturday morning, linking Madrid to the Portuguese border . .

At the same time, in the far south of Andalusia, a fire near Malaga forced the preventive evacuation of more than 3,000 people, according to the Andalusian emergency services.

Overwhelming heat

The Spanish Meteorological Agency kept virtually the whole country under different high temperature alert levels on Saturday, with values ​​above 40ºC in many areas and up to 44ºC in places.

In Portugal, only the southern Algarve region was not on heat alert. In the rest of the country, the Meteorological Institute predicts temperatures that can reach 42 ° C in places on Saturday. If the peak of this heat wave seems to have been crossed in the Iberian Peninsula, the mercury should not drop below the 40°C mark until the beginning of next week.

Burning weather across the Channel

Further north in Europe, in the UK , a crisis committee made up of British government ministers was due to meet on Saturday after the national weather agency issued the first-ever ‘red’ alert for extreme heat , warning of a “risk to life”.

The Met Office said temperatures in southern England could top 40C for the first time on Monday or Tuesday, potentially breaking the record high of 38.7C from 2019. This heat wave is the second in barely a month in Europe. The multiplication of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.

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