Consequences of the heat wave: forest fires in southern Europe continue to rage

The south of Europe has been in a heat wave for a week.

Consequences of the heat wave: forest fires in southern Europe continue to rage

The south of Europe has been in a heat wave for a week. While in Spain almost half of the forest fires are not yet under control, tourists in Italy have to save themselves from the flames in the water.

Heat, drought and forest fires continue to affect large parts of southern Europe. In Portugal, a pilot died when his fire-fighting plane crashed. The single-engine seaplane crashed on Friday afternoon for unknown reasons near the town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa in northeastern Portugal, about 200 kilometers east of Porto, the newspaper Público reported, citing civil defense. The 38-year-old pilot André Serra could only be recovered dead. "He will be remembered for his courage, his bravery and his commitment," said the President's Office in Lisbon in recognition of the pilot who died.

The machine was involved in fighting a forest fire in the Torre de Moncorvo region. According to civil defense, 13 larger and dozens of smaller fires are currently raging in the popular holiday destination. However, tourist and larger residential areas were not in danger for the time being. A total of around 1,000 firefighters are deployed. The series of fires that started a week ago is being helped by a drought and heat that has been going on for many months. According to the ICNF, the blaze destroyed more than 25,000 hectares in just one week - the equivalent of about 35,000 soccer fields.

Like neighboring Spain, Portugal suffers from peak temperatures of over 40 degrees. A total of 33 forest fires were recorded in Spain as of Saturday morning, 14 of which were out of control. Near Málaga, 2,300 people had to leave their homes in the city of Alhaurín el Grande because of the approaching flames, the newspaper "El País" reported.

In Italy, tourists have fled to the sea because of a forest fire and were rescued there by the coast guard. The fire in the Adriatic seaside resort of Bibione, which is particularly popular with German holidaymakers, broke out on Friday afternoon, according to media reports. When asked, the coast guard was initially unable to confirm whether Germans were among the rescued.

In connection with the extreme drought, fire brigades are currently fighting forest and bush fires nationwide in Italy. In the municipality of Gereut (Frassilongo) in Trentino, northern Italy, 90 firefighters, two helicopters and two fire-fighting aircraft responded to a forest fire in an area of ​​around 70 hectares. Firefighting continued on Saturday. The civil defense warned not to approach the area. The hiking and skiing area is east of Trento. In Tuscany, the Lucca fire brigade had to put out fires in a burning olive grove on Friday. Forest and bush fires were also raging in Sicily and Sardinia, and fire-fighting aircraft were used to fight them.

Strong winds hardly give the firefighters a chance: the large forest fire that broke out on the Greek holiday island of Crete on Friday and was meanwhile considered controlled flared up again on Saturday afternoon. Strong winds fueled the flames near the village of Agios Vasilios, south of the port city of Rethymnon. Houses had to be evacuated again, as reported by the Greek media. Most recently, 132 firefighters with 40 fire-fighting trains were deployed to deal with the fire, and fire-fighting helicopters supported the fire-fighting from the air.

The Ministry for the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection again warned of a "very high risk of forest fires" in five regions in Greece for Saturday. Warning level four (out of five) applies, among other things, to the Attica region with the capital Athens and the islands of Euboea, Crete, Chios and Samos. The authorities are appealing to people not to handle fire outdoors under any circumstances.

On the Atlantic coast of France south of Bordeaux, after days of extinguishing work, there is hope that one of the two large forest fires will calm down. The Gironde prefecture announced that the area burned near Teste-de-Buch had not increased overnight. However, the fire is not yet under control and there is a high risk that it will flare up again. The mayor of the town, Patrick Davet, told the French broadcaster France Info: "The situation is worrying, but we have a lot of hope."

The situation is different with the second major forest fire in the area. The fire at Landiras burned about 1,000 more hectares of land during the night. The situation remains unfavorable, winds bring the fire to the southeast. Firefighters have been on duty since Tuesday to extinguish the two large forest fires. In total, more than 9600 hectares of land were destroyed. As a precaution, more than 12,000 people were taken from their homes or from their holiday resort to safety.

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