THIS IS NOT SUMMER, THIS IS HELL! : Europe is in the midst of an ‘apocalyptic’ heatwave which has badly affected France, Spain and Portugal
Europe is facing a ‘heat apocalypse’ with all-time temperature records set to be smashed in France today while Spain battles dozens of wildfires that have left one firefighter dead.
Extreme heat warnings are in place across the continent’s western flank today, with figures in excess of 104F (40C) predicted all the way from Faro in southern Portugal up to Manchester in the UK.
All-time records are set to tumble across much of western France with 111F (44C) possible near Bordeaux in what forecasters have branded a ‘heat apocalypse’.
The extreme conditions have sparked dozens of fires, with crews battling a ‘monster’ blaze in Gironde which has forced 16,000 people to evacuated and torched 14,000 acres since it began a week ago.
David Brunner, the commander of local firefighters who has worked in the region for more than three decades, said he has ‘never seen anything like it.’
Meanwhile 36 fires are raging across Spain – two dozen of them out of control – one of which claimed the life of a 62-year-old firefighter on Sunday, burned to death around 60 miles south of Leon after being trapped by flames.
More than 1,000 people have died across Spain and Portugal in the heatwave, medical authorities have said, most of whom are thought to have perished from heat stress.
‘There are never words to thank the immense work of those who fight in front of the fire without rest,’ Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted as news of the death spread.
Two thirds of the country’s entire fire-fighting force are now deployed to try and contain the blazes, with some 2,300 people evacuated from their homes.
Almost the entirety of Spain is now under an ‘extreme danger’ of fire warning, according to the EU’s emergency management programme, with large parts of southern and central regions under the highest ‘very extreme danger’ warnings that also encompass parts of eastern Portugal.
Portuguese authorities are also battling wildfires in their country, though the situation has eased since temperatures topped 117F (47C) last week.
Four wildfires are raging in Portugal today with 700 firefighters deployed to dampen them down, though that is down from 16 that were burning late Sunday.
A nationwide state of emergency is due to last until Tuesday, when parliament will assess whether it needs to be extended. As things stand, it is likely the measures will be lifted.
The heatwave is the second to engulf parts of southwest Europe in weeks, and blazes burning in France, Greece, Portugal and Spain have destroyed thousands of hectares of land and forced thousands of residents and holidaymakers to flee.