Heatwave » Several Western European countries continued to battle devastating forest fires yesterday. This heat wave is the second in barely a month in Europe. The multiplication of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming, according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.
In the south-west of France, the mobilization of firefighters did not weaken, particularly in Gironde. Nearly 11,000 hectares of forest have gone up in smoke there since Tuesday, in a context of generalized heat wave. Météo-France has placed 15 departments in the west of the country on red “heat wave” vigilance, a sign of an extreme heat peak. Monday is shaping up to be "the hottest for the west of the country", predicts the public meteorological establishment, which expects the 40 degree mark to be reached in several regions, in Brittany, Basse -Normandy, Aquitaine and western Occitania.
For the time being, in the tourist basin of Arcachon, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the progression of the fire has slowed down, even if during the night from Saturday to Sunday "several outbreaks of fire threatened the campsites of the dune du Pilat, who had to be evacuated,” the Gironde prefecture said on Twitter.
In the Teste-de-Buch sector, the situation "remains unfavourable", the prefecture said yesterday at noon, even if the fire has made little progress in this area, going from 3,200 to 3,400 hectares up in smoke. Further inland, towards Landiras, the fire also progressed less than the previous night, going from 7,000 to 7,200 hectares burned, thanks to "the lighting of tactical fires and the creation of firewalls", according to the firefighters. In total, more than 14,000 residents and vacationers have had to pack their bags urgently since Tuesday.
Up to 42°C in Spain
In Spain, around 20 forest fires are still raging and remain out of control in different parts of the country, from the south to the far northwest in Galicia. The fires there have so far destroyed about 4,400 hectares of land this week, authorities said. Only 300 of the 3,000 people evacuated on a preventive basis near Malaga, in the far south, were authorized to return to their homes yesterday.
The Spanish Meteorological Agency yesterday forecast 'significantly high' temperatures over most of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. The mercury is expected to reach up to 42 degrees in the city of Logroño, in the north of the country, and 40 degrees in Madrid and Seville, in the south.
Calm in Portugal
Yesterday, Portugal, on the other hand, experienced a lull in the fire front and for the first time since July 8, temperatures should not exceed 40 degrees there. A single large focus, near the municipality of Chaves, in the far north of the country, was considered active and “practically under control” over 90% of its perimeter, according to civil protection.
According to the latest known report from the Portuguese authorities, the fires of the last week have left two dead and around sixty injured. They have ravaged between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares of forest and brush since the start of the heat wave.
In Greece, a fire that broke out on Friday morning in Crete, causing the preventive evacuation of seven villages in a rural area of the prefecture of Rethymno, was now under control.
UK red alert
Further north in Europe, in the UK, the national weather agency has issued the first-ever 'red' alert for extreme heat, warning of a 'risk to life'. The Met Office said temperatures in southern England could top 40 degrees for the first time on Monday or Tuesday.
The British Government was accused yesterday of not taking the heatwave seriously, as forecasters believe there could be deaths.
Resigning Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed a crisis meeting in Downing Street on Saturday, busy bidding farewell to friends at his country home in Checkers, northwest London. And yesterday, his deputy Dominic Raab seemed to be delighted that temperatures could exceed 40 degrees for the first time in England.
“Of course there are common sense tips – hydrate, avoid the sun at the hottest times and wear sunscreen, that sort of thing,” he told Sky News. But "we should enjoy the sun," he added, assuring that the country was resilient enough to cope with the heat and that there was no reason for schools to close. ats/afp
MeteoSwiss issued a heat wave pre-alert for French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino on Saturday. The Basel region is also affected.
The notice covers the period from this Monday at noon until Wednesday at 8 p.m. The heat peak is expected on Tuesday: temperature records could be broken.
In Geneva, the mercury could reach 38 to 39 ° C, elsewhere in French-speaking Switzerland 36 to 37 degrees.
In addition, Switzerland is affected by a first water saving. The inhabitants of Mendrisio, in the south of Ticino, must now save water. At the request of the authorities, they can only use drinking water for cleaning. It is therefore forbidden to water the garden, wash cars or fill swimming pools with drinking water, as the Ticino municipality has informed.
The reason for this is the persistent drought. The Radio and Television of Italian Switzerland (RSI) reported this call on Saturday evening. TTY