The wave of forest explosions does not stop in southern Europe, mainly in France, Spain and Portugal where this August 11 the flames devastated hundreds of hectares of forests. The situation in the south of France is of such magnitude that five more nations of the European Union will send aid.
A dangerous cocktail of scorching temperatures, massive tinder and strong winds is keeping dozens of forests in southern Europe ablaze.
Large swaths of vegetation and land in France, Spain and Portugal are particularly affected by fire.
A panorama for which this Thursday, August 11, the director of the European Space Agency, Josef Aschbacher, urged to take immediate measures to combat climate change.
For the third day in a row, around 1,100 firefighters backed by water-dropping planes are battling a “monstrous” blaze that has resumed in the Gironde department, southwestern France. The same region that last July faced two megafires. Since one of them exploded again, on Tuesday, August 9, it has already burned 6,800 hectares of forest.
Wildfires tore through parts of France, Spain and Portugal on Thursday as heatwaves baked Europe and the head of the European Space Agency urged immediate action to fight climate change. https://t.co/RW1HBHsc5h
— Reuters Science News (@ReutersScience) August 11, 2022
In recent days thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes cornered by the proximity of the flames.
“He is an ogre, a monster,” described Gregory Allione, of the French National Federation of Firefighters (FNSPF).
Although it is not the first time it has happened, the series of fires is unprecedented in several regions. On the ground, fatigue is beginning to be felt among firefighters, local authorities and residents, some of whom had already been forced to evacuate last month due to a fire that was never extinguished but continued to burn, covered by peat of forest, explained the experts.
Five European Union countries send aid to France
This Thursday reinforcements from the community bloc began to arrive in France. Currently, eight large forest fires are raging on French territory.
There is particular concern that one of the fire hotspots, in Gironde, will spread further to the southwest, in dry conditions.
In the face of the emergency and as part of the Civil Protection Mechanism of the European Union (EU), four water bomber planes from Greece and Sweden were sent to the country while equipment and vehicles from Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania are expected to gradually arrive. in the coming days, said the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.
“Our partners come to the aid of France against the fires. Thanks to them. European solidarity is on the march!” Said the French president, Emmanuel Macron, through his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne met with authorities fighting the flames in Landiras, south of Bordeaux, and more reinforcements are expected for the 1,100 firefighters in that area, the Gironde department prefecture said.
“Since June, our country has been facing exceptional fires,” Borne said during a press conference in Hostens, in southern Gironde.
Other departments such as Lozère and Aveyron, Isère, Drôme, Jura and Maine-et-Loire are also currently facing significant forest fires.
Beyond emergency management, “I can assure you that we are reinforcing our means, we want to act on all fronts to fight these fires even better in the future,” stressed the official, who was accompanied by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin.
Precisely among the greatest criticisms and concerns is the fact that not enough measures have been taken to avoid this type of calamity, point out those affected, for which the Prime Minister announced that “at the beginning of the new school year a new plan will be drawn up national adaptation to climate change (…) We must continue fighting climate change more than ever”, stressed the prime minister.
Spain and Portugal make progress, but the emergency does not end
The wave of fires does not let up in Spain and neighboring Portugal either.
Among the most affected regions of Spanish territory are Galicia, in the northwest, and Extremadura, in the west, both of which have a border with Portugal.
In Galicia, the town of Ourense bears the brunt, as the flames are out of control at three points.
However, in the same community, in the town of Verín, the forest fire known since last August 3, with ten different sources burning simultaneously, was extinguished on Wednesday, August 10 after burning 600 hectares, according to the authorities. local.
The deflagration in Xustáns, in Ponte Caldelas, was also extinguished, while the one in Casaio, in Carballeda de Valdeorras, is stabilized.
Meanwhile, in the Sierra de Gata, in Extremadura, the authorities are still trying to control the fire, with the support of vehicles and after night shifts by firefighters to try to put it out. 500 inhabitants were evacuated from the area.
Another deflagration, which began on Wednesday afternoon in Santibáñez El Alto, in the province of Cáceres, which also belongs to Extremadura, spread to the vicinity of the municipality of Torre de Don Miguel. A reconnaissance team and first intervention elements from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) moved there.
In the case of Cáceres, the electrical storms triggered new forest fires, so the situation has not yet ceased.
In Portugal, the inhabitants of Serra da Estrela, in the center of the country, continue to be besieged by the emergency. A fire that started on Saturday, August 6, near a town in the Cantar-Galo e Vila do Carvalho parish does not stop and continues to cause evacuations, panic and misery.
The fire jumped the limits of the municipality on Saturday and since then has devoured hectares of unique biosphere, a landscape of natural heritage that will be almost impossible to recover, local officials say.
The only “good aspect” so far is that no one has been seriously injured, although three firefighters were removed from the theater of operations for “minor injuries,” Civil Protection said.
The successive heat waves that hit Europe this summer have brought record temperatures and unprecedented droughts.
This condition is even expected to reduce the European Union corn harvest by 15%, leaving it at its lowest level in 15 years, just as Europeans face higher food prices as a result of exports of below-normal cereals from Russia and Ukraine.
With Reuters and local media