In the ongoing heat wave, several southern European countries are struggling massively with forest fires. Portugal, Spain, Croatia and the southwest of France are particularly affected. With temperatures well above 40 degrees, houses and campsites had to be evacuated in many places. In the past two days, thousands of people who had stayed on campsites around the well-known dune near Arcachon have been brought to safety on the French Atlantic coast. Around 20 fires raged in Portugal and Spain alone. “Yesterday was a very tough day,” said Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Thursday. Further fires must be prevented at all costs, the firefighters are already on the verge of exhaustion.
In the central Portuguese district of Leiria alone, nearly 900 firefighters were battling three active fires, while more than 2,800 firefighters and 860 vehicles were deployed across mainland Portugal, according to authorities. Since last week, at least 135 people have suffered mostly minor injuries, and around 800 have had to leave their homes. “It’s scary when the fire comes,” said 62-year-old Antonio Ramalheiro. “If it reaches the house, you lose everything.”
In Spain on the border with Portugal, the emergency services fought a fire that, according to the authorities, has already killed more than 4,000 hectares of land. Dozens of children had to be brought to safety from his holiday camp in the province of Salamanca. The Spanish weather service AEMET announced that neighboring provinces were also on red alert due to extreme heat. The authority expected that the heat wave would peak in large parts of the south of the country on Thursday with temperatures of more than 44 degrees Celsius.
In Croatia, the military helped fight forest fires, and fire-fighting aircraft were deployed on the Adriatic coast. According to the authorities, numerous houses were burned down by wildfires. “I bought this house in January,” said 55-year-old German Arndt Dreste, pointing to the badly damaged house. He sold his property in Germany. “This is my life here… it was here,” he said. According to the government, thousands of people have also been evacuated because of a wildfire in Turkey, but the fire there was brought under control after about 24 hours.