The unusually strong heat wave is leaving its mark in Europe. Several forest fires are raging in Germany. Spain is also still struggling with the flames.
- Persistent heat in Spain: The country has been struggling with drought for weeks – now forest fires have broken out.
- Heat in Italy: Drinking water supply is largely stopped due to drought.
- Forest fires in Germany: emergency services are fighting fires in Brandenburg.
+++ 5.30 p.m.: In the north of Spain, the forest fires continue to cause problems. Around 1,000 people had to be evacuated in the autonomous region of Navarra on Monday (June 20). These were accommodated in emergency shelters, as the dpa reports.
A fire on the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range not far from the border with Portugal could be extinguished, but it destroyed around 25,000 hectares of forest. The economic consequences for the region are immense.
Update from Monday, June 20, 1:50 p.m.: The heat keeps Europe in suspense. Meteorologists have now also announced a heat wave for Greece. After there had recently been unusually heavy rainfall in parts of the country, the temperatures are now expected to skyrocket, as dpa reports.
From Wednesday (June 22) it should be up to 40 degrees throughout Greece. The heat should last at least until the weekend, according to the experts. In addition to the health hazards, the risk of forest fires also increases with the heat. Several forest fires are currently raging in Brandenburg.
Heat in Europe: forest fires in Brandenburg
+++ 9.38 p.m.: A forest fire broke out in Brandenburg. The fire had spread to around 60 hectares by evening, reported the district spokeswoman, Andrea Metzler, on Friday evening (June 17). A forest near Frohnsdorf near Treuenbrietzen (Potsdam-Mittelmark) is affected.
According to her, the fire brigade, police, army and technical relief organization (THW) were on site. A total of 380 forces are deployed. A massive cloud of smoke can be seen as far south as Brandenburg, said forest fire protection officer Raimund Engel. The civil protection asked the population in the area around Treuenbrietzen, Linthe and Niemegk to keep windows and doors closed. The district spokeswoman said the situation was dynamic. “The wind is changing, it’s very dry again,” said Metzler. So far, however, no towns are in danger, she emphasized.
The use of the firefighters could be difficult because it is also an area in the suspected explosive ordnance area, explained the forest fire protection officer. Areas are affected where there was already a fire in 2018. “There have already been detonations,” reported Engel. Therefore, the extinguishing work could only be done from the edge.
Engel assumes that the work will continue on Saturday.
Massive heat in Europe: First forest fire in Germany – danger increases nationwide
Update from Friday, June 17, 11:30 a.m.: The heat wave is now also moving to Germany via southern Europe. The German Weather Service (DWD) expects the hottest days of the year so far this weekend. The peak is expected to be reached on Saturday with temperatures of up to 38 degrees, as the DWD announced on Thursday. Locally even the 40 degree mark can be cracked. This has significant consequences for nature.
In Italy, the drinking water supply is cut off at night due to persistent drought, and several forest fires are already raging in Spain. Germany is not spared either: another forest fire has broken out in the Harz Mountains. An area of about five hectares in the Trecktal in the Upper Harz on the Brocken is affected, as a spokesman for the integrated control center in the Harz told the German Press Agency on Friday morning. That corresponds to a size of about seven football pitches. It is still unclear why the fire broke out shortly after midnight. According to a spokesman for the Harz district, a large number of fire brigades are fighting the flames on site.
Heat and drought are spreading: the risk of forest fires in Germany is increasing
In other federal states, the risk of forest fires is increasing. In Berlin it is very high because of the persistent drought. The Senate Environment Administration called on Thursday to strictly observe the smoking and barbecue ban in and near the forest. Anyone who violates the smoking and fire ban must expect fines of at least 100 euros and up to 50,000 euros.
And in Baden-Württemberg, too, people are half-past: “Open fires and smoking are taboo in the forest,” said Minister of Agriculture Peter Hauk (CDU). The risk of forest fires is also very high in other federal states such as Bavaria or Hesse.
Heat in Italy: Authorities want to declare a state of emergency
Update from Thursday, June 16, 8:30 p.m.: A massive heat wave has hit southern Europe. In Spain there are several forest fires, in Italy the heat is now causing water shortages in some areas. In the heavily agricultural Po Valley in Italy, some communities are now rationing water distribution.
In the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, where the Po Valley is located, the authorities wanted to declare a state of emergency on Thursday (June 16). This was announced by the President of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana. He spoke of an “extraordinarily difficult situation”. The Po is Italy’s longest river and represents the country’s largest water reservoir. However, according to a regional weather observatory, it has not rained in some areas for more than 110 days. It is the worst drought in the Po Valley in 70 years.
According to the Coldiretti Agricultural Association, the drought is threatening half of the arable land in the Po Valley and almost a third of national agricultural production. The declaration of a state of emergency allows the authorities to control water distribution more closely and to initiate financial aid for the affected areas.
Heat in Spain: major alarm due to several forest fires
First report from Thursday, June 16: Barcelona – The Iberian Peninsula is currently being hit by a severe heat wave. This has its consequences: the authorities in Catalonia in north-eastern Spain have issued a major alarm for all fire brigades because of three forest fires that were raging at the same time.
So far, a total of around 1,100 hectares of forest and bush land have been destroyed, the fire brigade announced on Thursday. In addition to the professional fire brigades, helicopters, drones and units from the special military department for emergencies are also deployed. The flames in the areas where there has been too little rain are being fueled by a heat wave and sometimes strong winds.
Heat wave in Spain: Several forest fires are raging in the north
According to the fire department, the biggest concern is the fire in Artesa de Segre in the province of Lleida, around 130 kilometers northwest of Barcelona. Since the fire broke out the day before, more than 500 hectares of forest have been destroyed. If the flames on the southern flank cannot be stopped, the fire threatens to spread into the Segre valley and affect up to 20,000 hectares of forest. The authorities called on all farmers in the region to help build firebreaks with their tractors and plows.
The other, slightly smaller fires were reported from Corbera d’Ebre (Tarragona) and from Castellar de la Ribera (Lleida). There, around 300 hectares were lost to the flames.
Spain is currently suffering from an unusually early and particularly long heat wave. Temperatures of 35 to well over 40 degrees have been measured in many parts of the country since last weekend. Since the beginning of the year, more than 19,000 hectares of forest and bush land have been burned, the state TV broadcaster RTVE reported on Wednesday (June 15), citing data from the European earth observation system Copernicus. That is about twice as much as the average for the same periods in the years 2006 to 2021. Experts attribute the development to the consequences of man-made climate change. (asc/dpa)
In Germany and neighboring countries, too, the risk of fire continues to increase due to the heat. A forest fire recently broke out near Neuschwanstein Castle.