Wildfires and extreme heat are wreaking havoc in Europe

Firefighters fight fires in Europe. Credit: weather.com

A heat wave in Europe causes widespread forest fires. Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco are the most affected countries, but many parts of the euro zone are facing extreme conditions.

Temperatures reached 116°F in Portugal and 113°F in Spain. Those temperatures sparked wildfires that forced thousands of people to evacuate. To make matters worse, temperatures appear to be staying above 100°F for the next few days.

The current state of the fires as of July 17, 2022. Credit: Nasa FIRMS

In Portugal, two people were killed and more than 60 were injured in the fires. Nearly 100,000 acres have burned so far, three times the amount compared to this time last year. The Ministry of Health reported that 238 people died from the heatwave alone in the past week. Most of them are elderly people with underlying health conditions.

Conditions have been so hot that leaders in the French Alps have urged mountaineers bound for Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, to postpone their trip. This is due to continual rockfall caused by “exceptional climatic conditions” and drought.

The call for caution came after part of a glacier gave way earlier this month. It rained snow, ice and rocks on the climbers. The tragedy killed several hikers, a disaster officials blamed on global warming.

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. It is very popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and skiing. Credit: blazetrends.com

In Spain, more than 600 members of the emergency military unit have been reassigned to help forest rangers fight the fires. The country’s health institute showed there were 360 ​​deaths directly attributed to the heat last week.

The first red extreme heat warning was issued in the UK on Monday. It comes as many parts of Britain are also experiencing record heat. In some places, temperatures are reaching levels seen in the Sahara. British officials also point to climate change as the reason for the anomalies.

To make matters worse, the conditions were very unfavorable for firefighting. Strong gusts of wind fanned more outbreaks. Until conditions improve, many are simply trying to get by until the heat subsides and the fires can be brought under control.

Albanian children trying to cool off from the heat. Credit: REUTERS/Florion Goga

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