The increased occurrence and intensity of Mediterranean heat waves in Europe are rising faster. In southwest France, over 16,000 people were evacuated as Mediterranean wildfires spread in Spain, Greece, and Croatia. Campsites have been burning in Landiras and Teste-de-Buch.
Earlier this month about 3,200 people fled wildfires in the Mijas, Southern Spain.
Approximately 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land in the northern part of Portugal were recently destroyed by wildfires. That is so far the worst fire damage since 2017 when about 100 people were killed by wildfires.
A health ministry statement late Saturday said that 659 people died from the heat this week, most elderly. It said 47°C temperatures were recorded at a weather station in the Viseu district of Portugal’s center on Thursday while 47°C temperatures were recorded at a meteorological station.
Thousands of firefighters and waterbombing aircraft in Crete and Morocco have been deployed. As of Tuesday, the whole region left the vegetation bone dry as the area was broiling in intense heat.
According to experts, human activity has raised the risk of extreme Mediterranean heat waves by boosts in frequency, severity, and length. The world has warmed 1.1°C since the Industrial Revolution began, and temperatures are projected to rise by another 0.3°C by the end of the century unless governments take drastic steps to curb greenhouse gases.
Forecasters say temperatures in southern France might reach 41°C (106°F) on Sunday, and Monday would see new heat records.
As of Sunday afternoon, Mediterranean wildfires in southwestern France had burned more than 27,000 acres and forced more than 14,000 people to evacuate, officials said.
Temperatures are expected to hit 41°C in some areas of England on Monday and Tuesday, setting new records as the UK braces for widespread extreme heat.
More than 1,300 people were ordered to leave their homes, and more firefighters were deployed to tackle forest blazes in northern Morocco on Monday, reports AFP. Larache province has been the hardest hit.
Firefighters said that a large wildfire is burning in the hills around the north Crete town of Rethymno, near Greece’s border with Turkey. A fire that started Saturday has been partially contained, they said.
The deadly Mediterranean wildfires raged across southern Turkey and the Adriatic coast of Croatia, but no significant evacuations were ordered. A fire broke out near Croatia’s Zadar and Sibenik resort towns, but no evacuations were reported.
On Saturday evening, France heightened the level of an orange warning in 22 departments on the country’s Atlantic seaboard.
One citizen described the forest fire in southwestern France as feeling apocalyptic. Gerald Darmanin, the country’s interior minister, praised firefighters’ ‘exceptional bravery’ as fires burned 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) of land.
The Alpine climbers were asked to defer their Mont-Blanc trip due to the risk of rock falls caused by ‘exceptional climatic conditions.
The Greek fire department said 71 blazes had erupted within 24 hours on Saturday.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
BBC: Heatwave: More evacuations as Mediterranean wildfires spread; by Laurence Peter
BBC: Europe heatwave: Deadly wildfires spread in Mediterranean
REUTERS: ‘Climate change affects everyone’: Europe battles wildfires in intense heat; by Guillermo Martinez
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Mike McMillan Pacific Southwest Forest Service’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Province of Jens Grabenstein’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License