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Extreme temperatures causing forest fires across Europe

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By Newsvot News - - 5 Mins Read

The worst of a searing heatwave hit France on Monday, as bushfires raging in parts of southwest Europe showed little signs of slowing down.

Forecasters have raised the level of caution for excessive temperatures in 15 French departments as neighboring Britain prepares to break new heat records this coming week.

The weather agency in the UK warned there was a "danger to life" and issued the first-ever "red" warning for high heat.

The Met Office predicted that temperatures in southern England could reach 40 degrees Celsius for the first time on Monday or Tuesday, prompting some schools to announce this week's cancellations.

In some areas of The Netherlands, the temperature is expected to hit 38C on Tuesday.

The heatwave is the second to hit portions of southwest Europe in recent weeks, and fires in France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain have devastated thousands of hectares of land and driven out tens of thousands of inhabitants and tourists.

Scientists attribute the increase in heatwaves and droughts to climate change and foresee increasingly frequent and severe instances of extreme weather.

According to forecaster Olivier Proust, temperatures would rise beyond 42°C on Monday in France's Landes forest, which is located in the southwest Aquitaine area. Additionally, analysts predict that Brittany, which up until recently avoided the worst of the heat, could experience temperatures as high as 40C, which would be a record for the area. Firefighters in the southwest Gironde area kept working to put out forest fires that had burned nearly 11,000ha of land since Tuesday.

About 20 wildfires were reported by Spanish authorities to be burning from the south to Galicia in the extreme northwest, where the fires have scorched about 4500 hectares.

Unprecedented July heat wave

A firefighters sprays music festival-goers in Brittany.

As sections of the continent prepared for temperature records early this week, a summer heatwave that has caused disastrous forest fires across southwest Europe continued on Sunday.

Since last week's beginning, forest fires have destroyed thousands of hectares of land and claimed the lives of several firefighters in France, Portugal, Spain, and Greece.

Parts of southwest Europe are currently experiencing their second heatwave in as many weeks, and scientists are blaming climate change and predicting more frequent and severe occurrences of extreme weather.

Firefighters are battling to contain two forest fires that have consumed more than 10,000ha of land since Tuesday near the coastal town of Arcachon in southwest France.

With 1200 firefighters and five planes in the air, Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Chavatte of the fire and rescue service remarked, "It's a Herculean effort."

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that "a number of flames are still active in France." "Our firefighters have shown incredible bravery in battling the flames."

Seven emergency shelters have been put up to house evacuees after more than 14,000 people, including locals and tourists, have been forced to leave their campsites since Tuesday.

On Sunday, Meteo France predicted temperatures as high as 41C in certain regions of southern France and as low as 35C in others, with heat records anticipated on Monday. France put another 22 departments, mostly along its Atlantic coast, on high orange alert late on Saturday, bringing the total to 38.


The Meteorological Institute in Portugal predicted temperatures of up to 42C with no relief until next week. However, the civil defense took advantage of a minor drop in temperature following Thursday's July record high of 47C to attempt to put out one last significant fire in the north.

The national meteorological service in Spain maintained several states of alert across the country, issuing warnings for temperatures as high as 44°C in some areas. There were numerous forest fires burning across the nation, from the hot south to Galicia in the extreme northwest, where 3500ha of land was destroyed by flames.

After the official meteorological agency in Britain issued the first-ever "red" warning for excessive heat, cautioning there was a "danger to life," government ministers were to hold crisis meetings.

Some schools have announced that they will be closed the next week after the Met Office warned that temperatures in southern England could reach 40°C for the first time on Monday or Tuesday.