Heat Wave and Drought: Southern Europe is fighting forest fires

As of: 07/13/2022 21:24

Forest fires broke out in parts of southern Europe and Turkey due to prolonged drought and heat. There is no improvement in the situation – quite the contrary. It will likely be one of the longest heat waves in decades.

Extreme and prolonged heat in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy led to the outbreak of many forest fires. In Spain, the largest fire was currently raging in the municipality of Las Hurdes near the Portuguese border. The flames have already destroyed about 3,500 hectares there.

The Aemet weather service has raised an alarm for 16 of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities: the second heatwave this year is likely to be one of the longest since records began in 1975. It should be especially hot with temperatures up to 44 degrees in Andalusia to the south and Extremadura to the west. There, on the border with Portugal, more than 400 people were evacuated due to a forest fire.

Near Madrid, seawater is collected from the air to put out a fire.

Image: AP

A dead man in Portugal

In neighboring Portugal, fire brigades and civil defense also fought forest fires, sometimes at temperatures well above 40 degrees – especially in the center of the country. The woman died in a fire in the village of Murtosa.

In the morning, more than 1,500 firefighters fought four large fires in the municipalities of Leiria, Pombal and Ourém, some 100 kilometers north of Lisbon. A total of 600 people were brought to safety, of which about 120 had to undergo treatment, according to civil protection. Officials said 96 percent of Portugal experienced extreme or severe drought in late June.

The fire helicopter crashes into Samos

A forest fire also broke out on the Greek holiday island of Samos in the west near the town of Paleochori. As reported by the Samos Voice portal, 14 fire engines, three fire planes and two fire helicopters were sent to fight the flames. Until evening, the fire was still not under control. As a precautionary measure, two cities were evacuated.

According to Greek media, one of the helicopters crashed during the mission just as it was supposed to collect water from the sea. Accordingly, there were four passengers on board. The pilot may have been saved alive by the Coast Guard and taken to hospital. The two remaining prisoners were found dead, according to the media, the fourth was still searched in the evening.

Due to severe drought, the fire department announced the second-highest forest fire warning level for several islands off the eastern Aegean coast, but also for the Attica region around Athens and the large islands of Euboea 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 brought thousands of people to safety from the spreading flames. Five camps were evacuated as a precautionary measure in Teste-de-Buch, south of the city of Bordeaux. According to Gironde, 6,000 people have been taken elsewhere. Temperatures of 37 degrees are expected in the area.

France also uses firefighting planes.

Image: AFP

The fires have now fallen victim to over 1,200 hectares of land. They are favored by prolonged drought and high temperatures. Orange high temperature alert level announced. According to the prefecture, over 600 firefighters fought the fires. Support from emergency services in other parts of France was also expected.

Forest fires in the Gironde department

Carolin Dylla, ARD Paris, 7/13/2022 15:59

Italy is fighting fire from the air

In Italy, the fire brigade is fighting, among others on the border of Tuscany and Liguria with flames on an inaccessible hill, as announced by the Tuscan authorities. There are two helicopters and six units of different forces on site. The growing winds can fan the flames in the area.

There is also a fire in Turkey

Forest fires broke out in Turkey again. On Datca Island in the southwest of the country, which is popular with vacationers, eight fire planes, 14 helicopters and more than 100 fire fighting vehicles are fighting the flames, the Turkish forestry authority said. Several houses have had to be evacuated, and so far there have been no reports of injuries. Also in the province of Izmir, numerous firefighters are on duty due to forest fires.

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