Alert in the European summer: emergency measures due to extreme heat, drought and gigantic forest fires

From Portugal to Greece, the fires have been spreading for days in Europe, while a suffocating heat wave hits the United Kingdom and France, mainly. (CARLOS COSTA/)

In France alone, some burned 14,000 hectares, more than the surface of intramural Paris. Meanwhile, in Spain, the fires have claimed the life of a first brigade member, and devour 20,000 hectares of forest massin at least 5 autonomous regions.

This is largely a product of the second heat wave this summer, a situation that is suffocating Europe under a dome of extreme temperatures. Another reason, the historic drought. In Spain, 360 people have already died due to high temperatures since July 10. A figure that rises to 659 in Portugal. In these two countries, temperatures reached 46 degrees.

The British weather service issued a red alert for “extreme heat” for this Monday and Tuesday in England in anticipation of temperatures that could exceed records, even the threshold of 40 ° C. The heat record currently stands at 38.7°C, recorded at the Cambridge Botanic Garden in eastern England.

The British warning has reached the level of asking people not to leave their homes. Thomas Moore, science correspondent for the Sky network, has tried to explain why the rise in temperatures is so alarming: “Britain is not cut out for this heat,” he said.

The heat wave leads the British to leave the cities and seek closer to the sea.  Meteorologists say that the country is not prepared for 40 degrees.
The heat wave leads the British to leave the cities and seek closer to the sea. Meteorologists say that the country is not prepared for 40 degrees.

“Our rail network is only designed for temperatures up to 30°C. Only half of our strategic highways are covered with heat-resistant material,” he added.

In fact, Southern Rail, one of the many British train operators, warns that services will be affected today due to hot weather. “If you plan to use public transportation today, be sure to bring water and perhaps a handheld fan,” he explains in a statement.

In that context, hospitals have rescheduled some services, as officials warned that extreme weather hampers operation. Various offices, work centers and industries, especially in covered areas, will also be closed. Schools in several counties, including Nottinghamshire and Hampshire, have confirmed that they will not hold classes.

In France, people look for any way to cool off.
In France, people look for any way to cool off. (YOAN VALAT/)

France lives one of the hottest days in its history this Monday, with heat records in the southwestern regions and along the entire Atlantic coast to northern Brittany. The episode of extreme temperatures that embraces the “hexagon” since July 12 will continue to grow: 15 departments, in the southwest and on the Atlantic coast, are now on red watch for heat waves, another 51 are on orange watch.

In this context and almost a week has passed since the start of two fires, in La Teste-de-Buch and Landiras, an unprecedented scale that devastates the Gironde department. In the place, it is the concern that reigns, all the more so since the fire resumed during the weekend.

The two great foci continue. Almost 14,000 hectares (4,200 in Teste-de-Buch and 9,800 in Landiras) have burned, the prefecture of New Aquitaine and Gironde announced on Monday. “Important land and air resources are being committed”, explains the prefecture and highlights that “1,700 firefighters” are mobilized, as well as “Canadairs and Dash planes”. About 5,000 people had to be evacuated during the day.

In Spain the news this morning was still bad. The fire that hits the Sierra de la Culebra, in the province of Zamora, has added a second victim. A shepherd died and his body was found near the town of Tábara, according to firefighters working in the area.

Meanwhile, the forecasts for the continental center do not give respite. “The heat is gaining momentum, the heat wave is spreading,” warns the Météo-France institute, which expects to see many temperature records broken, especially in the west and south-west.

“In some areas of the Southwest, it will be a heat apocalypse” that could reach 44°C in some places on Monday, followed by a “scorching night”.

Extreme heat, accompanied by this fire crisis, has prompted thousands to evacuate parts of France, Spain and Portugal. An SMS sent by the authorities asks those affected in the areas to withdraw to shelters.

For the authorities, The current situation of the so-called “three thirty”, with temperatures above 30°C, winds exceeding 30 km/h and humidity below 30%, makes fire control extremely complex.

Among the trivia: On UK farms, pigs are being covered in sunscreen to protect them at one of Britain’s largest field shows. Farmers are using sun cream to protect the animals’ sensitive skin from the scorching heat at the Royal Welsh Show.


Heat wave in Spain: at least 237 dead and more than 3,000 people evacuated due to forest fires