Fire consumed France, Spain; temperature-related deaths

PARIS – Firefighters struggled on Sunday to contain wildfires raging out of control in France and Spain as Europe withers under an unusually extreme heatwave that authorities responsibility in Madrid related to the increase in mortality.

Two massive fires that have consumed pine forests for six days just south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, have forced some 14,000 people to evacuate, many of whom have spent holidays at campsites.

In Spain, firefighters supported by emergency brigades of the armed forces are trying to put out more than 30 forest-consuming fires spread across the country. Spain’s defense ministry said “the majority” of the country’s firefighting planes have been deployed. Many areas have rugged and difficult-to-reach mountainous terrain.

The dry conditions of the Iberian peninsula make it particularly vulnerable to wildfires, some caused by lightning strikes, others by accident, and even some intentionally set, after a hot air mass blew in from Africa. last week.

So far, there have been no fire-related deaths in France or Spain. In Portugal, a pilot of a firefighting plane died when his plane crashed on Friday.

But as temperatures remain unusually high, the death toll from the heat has increased in a heatwave that the European Union considers a trigger of climate change.

In Spain, the second heatwave of the summer has maintained highs above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in many areas, regularly peaking at 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit). According to Spain’s Carlos III Institute, which records daily temperature-related deaths, 360 deaths are attributed to high temperatures between July 10-15. This number is compared compared with 27 temperature-related deaths in the previous six days.

The death of a street sweeper after he suffered a heat stroke while working has prompted the town hall of the Spanish capital to make an option for their street cleaners to work in the evenings to Avoid the worst storms of the day.

In France, fires in La Teste-de-Buch near the Atlantic coast forced 10,000 people to flee an area known as the seaside resort of Arcachon. The Gironde regional government on Sunday said the “situation remains unfavorable” as strong winds, combined with hot, dry conditions, fueled further outbreaks overnight. That led to a protracted struggle to protect the campsites.

A second fire near the town of Landiras, south of a wine-growing valley in Bordeaux, forced authorities to evacuate 4,100 people this week, including about 1,900 on Saturday. Authorities said that one side was controlled by pouring white sand along a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) stretch. However, another flank remains unchecked.

A total of more than 10,300 (25,400) hectares of land were burned in the two fires.

Emergency officials warned that high temperatures and strong winds on Sunday and Monday would complicate efforts to prevent the fires from spreading further.

“We have to be very cautious and very humble, because it will be a very hot day. We don’t have a favorable weather window. This place is very, very hot and very active,” regional fire official Eric Florensan said Sunday on local radio France-Bleu.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 40 C (104 F) in the area, with Monday forecast to be the hottest day in a July spell of severe weather.

Some of the most worrisome fires in Spain are concentrated in the western regions of Extremadura and Castilla y León. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has announced a joint order that will take over the coordination of efforts to combat active fires in neighboring areas.

Firefighters were unable to stop a fire that broke out near the city of Cáeres that threatens Monfragüe National Park and has prevented 200 people from returning to their homes.

Another fire in southern Spain near the city of Malaga forced the evacuation of 2,500 people. There were more fires near the central city of Ávila, in northwestern Galicia, among other regions.

Hungary, Croatia and the Greek island of Crete have also experienced wildfires this week, as have Morocco and California.

Scorching temperatures have reached as far north of England, where their weather agency has issued the first “red warning” for extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday, as temperatures in the south England could hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time.

That level would still be relatively tolerable compared to the 47 C (117 F) recorded in the northern Portuguese town of Pinhao on Wednesday, setting a new national record.


Wilson reports from Barcelona, ​​Spain.


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