Fierce wildfires force thousands in southwestern France to flee homes

Wildfires raged in southwestern France and Spain on Saturday, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes as blazing summer temperatures put authorities in Europe on alert.

More than 12,200 people were evacuated from the French Gironde region on Saturday morning as more than 1,000 firefighters tried to control the blaze, the regional government said in a statement.

Wildfires have ravaged France in recent weeks, as have in other European countries including Portugal and Spain. Nearly 10,000 hectares of land burned in the Gironde region on Saturday, up from 7,300 hectares on Friday.

Blazes also fought in Spain

In neighboring Spain, firefighters battled a series of blazes on Saturday after days of unusually high temperatures reaching 45.7 degrees Celsius.

A forest fire is seen burning near a residential area in Alhaurin de la Torre, Malaga, Spain, on Saturday. (Gregorio Marrero / The Associated Press)

According to data from the Carlos III Health Institute, the heat wave lasted nearly a week, causing 360 deaths due to the heat.

More than 3,000 people have been forced from their homes due to a massive wildfire near Mijas, a town in the southern province of Malaga that is popular with Nordic tourists, the region’s emergency services said. region said in a tweet early Saturday.

Many people were taken to shelter in a provincial sports center.

“Police drove up and down the street with sirens and people were told to leave. Just leave. There were no directions to where to go,” said John Pretty, 83, from the UK.

“It’s scary … because you don’t know what’s going on,” said Jean-Marie Vandelanotte, 68, of Belgium.

A forest fire near Casas de Miravete, Spain, is seen burning on Saturday. (Isabel Infantes / Reuters)

Elsewhere in Spain, thick clouds of black smoke rose into the air near Casas de Miravete in the Extremadura region as helicopters poured water over a blaze that burned 3,000 hectares, forcing two villages to evacuate and threatening threatens Monfrague National Park.

Fires also burned in the central region of Castille and Leon and in Galicia to the north.

Reduce the temperature in Portugal

There has been some respite for firefighters in Portugal, where temperatures dropped across most of the country on Saturday after hitting around 40 degrees Celsius in recent days.

A helicopter is seen falling into water on Saturday during a forest fire near the village of Bustelo in northern Portugal. (Patricia De Melo Moreiera/AFP/Getty Images)

“We’ve got huge fires and we don’t want them to flare up again…. We’ll be on high alert this weekend,” said Civil and Emergency Service Commander Andre Fernandes. told reporters.

Data from Portugal’s Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests shows that a total of 39,550 hectares were devastated by the bushfires from the beginning of the year to mid-June, more than three times the area burned in the same period last year. Last year, data from Portugal’s Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests.

An area equivalent to nearly two-thirds of the area was burned in fires last week.

Portugal’s health ministry said 238 people died from the heatwave between July 7 and 13, most of them elderly people with underlying medical conditions.

Wildfires in Morocco

Across the Mediterranean from Europe, fires in Morocco have ripped through more than 2,000 hectares of forest in the northern regions of Larache, Ouazzane, Taza and Tetouan, leaving at least one person dead, local authorities said.

Firefighters are seen battling wildfires near the Moroccan city of Ksar el-Kebir in the Larache region on Friday. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 1,000 households had to be evacuated. Water tankers helped put out most of the fires Friday night, although firefighters were still struggling to put out three hot spots near Larache.

In the UK, the National Weather Service has issue the first red “extreme temperature” warning for UK regions on Monday and Tuesday.

The highest temperature recorded in the UK was 38.7 degrees Celsius, recorded in Cambridge on 25 July 2019.

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