Wildfires Burn in France and Spain After Scorching Heatwaves
(Bloomberg) -- Firefighters are struggling to control blazes in France’s Gulf of Saint Tropez and in the Spanish province of Avila, another manifestation of dangerous global warming that’s already caused a long list of extreme weather events this summer.
A wildfire burned through 5,000 hectares in France’s Var department, leading to the deployment of about 900 firefighters and the evacuation of at least 10,000 people, according to local authorities. A separate fire in Avila consumed at least 15,000 hectares, the government said.
“People have gone through really hard days as a consequence of very large wildfires associated with the heatwave we’ve just suffered,” Spain’s Minister for the Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said on Monday. Forest fires “are something we are bound to live with as these are one of the most dramatic effects of climate change in the Mediterranean climate.”
Most of Spain remains under fire alert following a heatwave that saw thermometers in southern and central regions rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) over the weekend, with the town of Montoro registering a record-high temperature for the country—47.4°C on August 14. A heatwave that hit southeastern France over the weekend has started to ease.
Still, the combination of high temperatures, drought and strong winds has fueled the wildfires and made them harder to extinguish. In France’s Var department, 700 firefighters have been deployed to try to contain the blaze that’s burning through one of the country’s most famous holiday destinations. The coast between the cities of Marseille and Cannes is known for its small villages and pristine beaches.
French President Emmanuel Macron is spending his holidays in the region, staying at the Bregançon fortress, a presidential summer residence that in the past hosted predecessors like General Charles de Gaulle and François Hollande. Macron met with local officials and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday to discuss the fires.
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