Status: 07/15/2022 11:05 a.m
There are fires all around the Mediterranean Sea, in numerous countries fire brigades and rescue services are working to the limit. And the situation is likely to worsen again at the weekend: temperatures of up to 45 degrees are expected.
There is still no end in sight to the heat and drought in southern Europe. Fire brigades and security forces have to be prepared to fight a number of fires towards the end of the week. According to meteorologists, the blistering heat period in Spain and southern France should end on Tuesday next week at the earliest.
The heat alert is still in effect in 16 of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities. In the regions of Andalusia in the south and Extremadura in the west of the country, temperatures are expected to climb to 44 and 45 degrees Celsius in the shade. In Spain, only the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa are spared the extreme heat. The Spanish weather service announced that the heat wave would be one of the longest in terms of extent and length since records began in 1975.
Severe forest fires in France
France is also saying that the current heat wave is particularly intense and long-lasting. The orange heat warning level applies in eleven departments, and temperatures of around 40 degrees are expected to be reached in some places today. Forest fires are still raging on the French Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux. In the meantime, more than 5300 hectares of land have fallen victim to the flames, and more than 10,000 people have been brought to safety. The last concern was the wind, which drove the fire towards inhabited areas.
A rapidly spreading forest fire was also reported south of Avignon yesterday afternoon. Civil protection warned of a particular fire hazard in the Rhone Valley there, where the Mistral – a strong fall wind typical of the region – is likely to sweep over dry areas today and tomorrow.
Fire and state of emergency in Italy
Italy has also been struggling with drought for weeks. The government therefore declared a state of emergency in five northern regions along the Po River, and other regions could follow. Bush and forest fires occur again and again. Yesterday evening, the fire brigade announced that they had fought a large forest fire near Genoa. There is still a great risk of fire in Sicily and Sardinia.
Large forest fires have also broken out in South Tyrol and on Lake Garda. In South Tyrol, the fire brigade fought a major fire in the hiking area near Frauwaal during the night. Around 150 firefighters were deployed, the fire department said. The teams were able to contain the fire after several hours. The fires flared up again in the northern part of Lake Garda near the municipality of Nago Torbole, said a spokesman for the Autonomous Province of Trento. The fire brigade had previously been able to bring severe fires under control on Monte Baldo mountain in an area of around 45 hectares for several days.
consequences of climate change
In Greece, the fire brigade is once again warning of a very high risk of forest fires in certain areas. The warning level four out of five applies to Athens and the surrounding area as well as the north-east of the Peloponnese peninsula and islands such as Crete, Lesbos and Samos. According to the rescue services, there have been 264 forest fires in the past seven days alone – there have been almost 2,500 since the start of the fire season in early May.
The World Meteorological Organization warned this week that the heatwave was spreading and intensifying across much of Europe. According to a UN report from February 2022, the number of extreme forest fires will increase by 30 percent in the next 28 years due to human-caused climate change.