A rash of wildfires burning across the region is being attributed by European officials to climate change.
In the midst of an extraordinary heat wave that officials are trying to climate change, firefighters were battling flames on Wednesday in Portugal, Spain, and southern France.
Commander of Portugal’s Civil Protection André Fernandes reported that numerous fires have forced the evacuation of over 600 persons. According to Fernandes, 120 individuals required medical attention, and two persons—a fireman and a civilian—suffered significant injuries.
While another 1,000 firemen attempted to put out other fires, 1,300 firefighters battled the worst of the fires in the country’s central region with the assistance of water-dumping planes.
On the other side of the Mediterranean, in Turkey, the European heat wave is also igniting fires in Spain, France, and other countries.
According to the local emergency service, more than 800 firefighters battled two wildfires in the area outside Bordeaux in southwest France. The flames started on Tuesday near the towns of Landiras and La Teste-de-Buch, and by Wednesday morning, firefighters still hadn’t been able to put them out.
In the surrounding forest, 6,500 people have been evacuated from communities and campers. It’s unclear how many people were hurt. The emergency agency reported that more than 4,400 acres of land have been destroyed by the two fires.
Strong winds were fanning the fires as they raced through grasslands and tree groves, and firefighters captured images of smoke obscuring the horizon.
The local government outlawed activity in dangerous woodland regions. Due to the hot, dry weather and strong winds, some areas of southern France are on fire alert. Southeast France’s Gard region experienced wildfires last week.
Forest fires have killed people in Portugal for many years. More than 100 individuals were killed by wildfires in 2017. Since then, no one has perished in a wildfire since Portugal has made improvements to its forest management and firefighting techniques.
The number of wildfires in Portugal last year was at its lowest level since 2011. However, a mass of hot, dry air being brought in from Africa is raising temperatures in the Iberian Peninsula above normal highs.
The Atlantic nation, which has been on high alert for wildfires since last week, is sweltering in a heat wave that is expected to raise temperatures to 115 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday and Thursday in the central Alentejo region. According to officials, 96 percent of the nation was categorized as being under “extreme” or “severe” drought at the end of June.
Mayor Goncalo Lopes told Portuguese state radio RTP that simply in the Leiria region, which is just north of Lisbon, more than 7,400 acres have been devoured.
António Costa, the prime minister of Portugal, who postponed a vacation abroad to cope with the problem, stated that maintaining abandoned farmland and woodlands required better attention.
Tuesday saw highs of 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit in some southern cities of neighboring Spain.
Tuesday saw the evacuation of more than 400 individuals due to an 8,600-acre wildfire in western Spain.
Officials from the European Union warned local authorities to prepare for wildfires last week, claiming that climate change is to blame for the continent’s exceptionally dry and hot summer thus far.
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