In Spain, helicopters dropped water on the flames as the heat rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the mountainous terrain often made the firefighters’ job more difficult.
Watching thick plumes of smoke billowing over the central western Gerti Valley, shocked residents said the heat makes their formerly green and cool homes more like semi-arid southern Spain.
“Climate change affects everyone,” said resident Miguel Angel Tamayo.
A study published in June in the journal Environmental Research: Climate concluded that climate change is very likely to exacerbate heat waves.
At least 1,000 deaths have been attributed to the heat wave in Portugal and Spain so far. Temperatures in Spain reached 45.7 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) during the nearly week-long heatwave.
The Spanish Meteorological Agency issued temperature warnings for Sunday, with a high of 42°C (108°F) forecast for Aragon, Navarra and La Rioja in the north. She said the heat wave would end on Monday but warned that temperatures would remain “extraordinarily high”.
Fires broke out in several other regions, including Castile and Leon in central Spain and Galicia in the north on Sunday afternoon. In the Málaga province in southern Spain, forest fires broke out at night, affecting locals near Mijas, a town popular with tourists from Northern Europe.
British pensioners William and Elaine McCurdy fled their home on Saturday, seeking safety with evacuees at a local sports center as the fire approached.
“It was so fast… I didn’t take it seriously. I thought they had it under control and I was totally surprised when it seemed to be moving in our direction,” William, 68, told Reuters.
“We just got some necessities and ran and by that point everyone on the street was moving,” Eileen said.
In France, wildfires have now spread to more than 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the southwest region of the Gironde, and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated, regional authorities said Sunday afternoon.
Authorities said in a statement that more than 1,200 firefighters were trying to get the fires under control.
France has issued red alerts, the highest possible, for several regions, while urging residents to “exercise caution”.
In Italy, where small fires have broken out in recent days, meteorologists expect temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in several regions in the coming days.
Similar temperatures are expected in Britain on Monday and Tuesday, which could exceed the previous official record of 38.7 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) set in Cambridge in 2019.
Britain’s meteorologist has issued the first red warning of ‘severe heat’ for parts of England. Rail passengers were advised to travel only when absolutely necessary and to expect widespread delays and cancellations.
Hundreds dead in Portugal
The Portuguese Ministry of Health said late Saturday evening, that 659 people died in the past seven days due to the heat wave, most of them elderly. She said the weekly peak of 440 deaths was on Thursday, when temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in several areas and 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) at a weather station in the central Viseu region. .
By Saturday, there were 360 heat-related deaths in Spain, according to figures from the Carlos III Institute of Health.
Portugal suffers from severe drought – 96% of the mainland experienced severe or severe drought at the end of June, before the latest heat wave, according to data from the National Institute of Meteorology.
The commander of the Emergency and Civil Protection Authority, Andre Fernandez, urged people to be careful not to start new fires in such dry conditions.
On Saturday, Greece’s fire brigade said 71 fires broke out within 24 hours. Local fire brigade officials in Crete said on Sunday that a fire in forests and farmland had been partially contained.
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