A heat wave is expected to fuel devastating wildfires in Western Europe on Sunday and continue into the early week, where it could break several temperature records in France and Great Britain.
The heat wave is the second in just one month in Europe. The proliferation of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming, according to scientists, as greenhouse gas emissions increase in intensity, duration and frequency.
In France, Greece, Portugal and Spain, fires have burned thousands of hectares, forced thousands of residents and tourists from their homes and killed several members of the emergency services last week fighting the blazes.
In the southwest of France, the mobilization of firefighters has not weakened, especially in the Gironde, where almost 11,000 hectares of forest have gone up in smoke since Tuesday, in the context of a typical heat wave. Météo-France has put 15 departments in the west of the country on a red “heat wave” alert, a sign of an extreme heat peak.
Monday could be one of the hottest on record in France. “The heat is rising, the heat wave is spreading across the country”, the public weather agency warned, with several temperature records likely to be broken, especially in the west and south-west.
Météo France recommends that residents of the affected areas exercise “absolute vigilance” in the face of a “dangerous phenomenon of unusual intensity”.
According to Meteo France, “in parts of the south-west, it will be an apocalypse of heat”, reaching 44° on Monday, followed by a “sweltering night”.
The fires intensified again on Sunday evening, particularly in the Gironde, in the Arcachon tourist catchment on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
At the Teste-de-Buch, “The situation is deteriorating. The fire has reached the sea and is moving south”, according to a tweet from the prefecture, which called for “extreme caution”.
On social networks, Internet users published photos and videos taken from the sea of a huge fire “30 meters high” devouring the lagoon beach south of Dune du Pilat.
In total, more than 16,200 residents and vacationers were forced to urgently pack their bags from Tuesday.
In Lyon, the neighboring chapel of the Grand Hotel Dieu offered shelter to tourists: “We entered the place to worship, but we could no longer leave, it was too hot outside. We pray before the furnace! ”, laughs Jean-Marc, 51, who came from Alsace (north-east) with his family.
In Spain, around 20 wildfires are still burning and in various parts of the country, from the south to Galicia in the far northwest, fires have destroyed 4,400 hectares of vegetation so far this week. Officers.
In the south, fires that broke out Friday in the Mijas mountains near the coastal city of Malaga were brought under control by Sunday evening, Andalusian President Juan Manuel Moreno said.
According to local authorities, the fire destroyed nearly 2,000 hectares and prompted the evacuation of more than 3,000 residents, but 2,000 have since been able to return to their homes and, according to Mr. Moreno, more are likely to follow.
On Sunday, the thermometer reached 39° in Madrid, 39.7° in Seville (south) and a maximum of 43.4° in Don Benito near Badajoz (east).
A 50-year-old man died Sunday of heatstroke while walking down the street in Torrejon de Ardoz, near Madrid, according to emergency services. When help arrived, the man was in “cardiorespiratory arrest” with a body temperature of 40°C. A 60-year-old road worker in Madrid died of heat stroke the day before.
Portugal is experiencing calm: For the first time since Sunday, July 8, temperatures did not exceed 40 degrees, according to the National Meteorological Service (IPMA), after reaching a historic record of 47 on Thursday July.
Calm on the fire front, too: A single large focus, near Chávez, in the north of the country, is considered active and more than 90% of its perimeter is “practically under control,” according to Portuguese Civil Protection.
However, almost all Portuguese territory has a “maximum”, “very high” or “high” risk of fire on Sunday, especially in the central and northern regions.
According to the latest known report from Portuguese authorities, last week’s fires killed two and injured sixty. They have destroyed 12,000 to 15,000 hectares of forest and brush since the heat wave began.
In the north of Europe, in the UK, the National Weather Service issued the first ever ‘red’ alert for extreme heat, warning of a ‘danger to life’. Temperatures could reach 40 degrees for the first time in southern England on Monday or Tuesday, the Met Office said.
Resigned Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused the British government of not taking the heat wave seriously on Sunday after missing a crisis meeting in Downing Street, and his deputy Dominic Raab was seen rejoicing over 40 degrees for the first time. England.
In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) announced a national heat plan and smog alert on Sunday, in effect across the country from Monday, with temperatures expected to rise to 35 degrees in the next few days. Temperatures up to 38 degrees were recorded in some places on Monday and Tuesday in the south.
In other parts of the world, extreme temperatures have also fueled wildfires, notably in northern Morocco where one person died and half of the 4,660 hectares affected were engulfed in smoke, and in western Canada.