Fire has spread 27,000 acres in the Gironde department in south-west France forced 32,000 people to evacuate, the local prefecture said on Monday evening.
The nearby town of Cazaux recorded 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the hottest temperature since its weather station opened more than 100 years ago in 1921, according to France’s national weather service Météo France.
Large cities in western France such as Nantes and Brest have also set new heat records, it said.
Fires were first reported in Finistère on the country’s Atlantic coast on Monday afternoon; Less than eight hours later, the blazes had decimated more than 700 acres, causing several villages to be evacuated.
More than 70,000 hectares have been destroyed by fires in Spain this year, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday. “70,000 hectares, to give you an idea, is almost double the average for the last decade,” he said.
The country’s Carlos III Health Institute on Monday estimated a total of more than 510 heatwave-related deaths in the country, based on a statistical calculation of excess deaths.
Hundreds have also died in neighboring Portugal, where oppressive temperatures are exacerbating a severe drought.
On Saturday, Portugal’s health ministry said 659 people, mostly elderly, had died in the past seven days, Reuters reported.
An elderly couple died on Monday after their vehicle overturned while fleeing wildfires in northern Portugal, the country’s state broadcaster reported.
In total, over 1,100 people are said to have died as a result of the ongoing heat wave in southern Europe.
“Peak of Intensity”
As the heatwave spreads across the country, the French capital Paris is expected to hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.
In the UK – where temperatures hit 38.1 degrees on Monday in Santon Downham in eastern England, making it the third hottest day on record – officials warned things were likely to get worse.
According to Met Office CEO Penelope Endersby, Tuesday is “expected to be even hotter”.
“Tomorrow we really see the higher probability of 40 degrees and temperatures above,” Endersby told BBC radio on Monday.
“Even possibly beyond that, 41 is not out of the question. We even have some 43s in the model but we’re hoping it won’t be that high.”
In France, Tuesday’s heatwave is expected to move away from the western part of the country and instead head for the center and eastern part, including Paris.
Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (KMI/IRM) issued a “Code Red” weather warning for heat in two provinces on Tuesday, forecasting temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in the west and south-west.
“With such very high temperatures, certain measures will be necessary: drink regularly, wear lighter clothing, spend the day in cooler rooms, check your health regularly, eat easily digestible food (and in smaller portions), keep doors and windows closed to block out the heat to keep outside. Pets and animals also need special care,” it warned local residents.
The Joint Research Center stressed that drought was “critical” in much of Europe as the “winter-spring rainfall deficit…was exacerbated by early heat waves in May and June”.
According to the report, the water supply could be “compromised” in the coming months.
Speaking to CNN on Monday, Oxford University professor Myles Allen warned that such heatwaves will be inevitable unless humanity cuts its carbon emissions soon.
“It’s not a new normal because we’re just on a trend of hotter and hotter temperatures,” Allen told CNN on Monday.
The solution, he said, is a sweeping shift across the energy industry. Individual companies are unlikely to unilaterally change their business models for fear of losing their competitiveness against rivals, he added.
“It has to be regulation for the industry as a whole,” Allen said.
Joseph Ataman, Jimmy Hutcheon and Xiaofei Xu reported from Paris. Zahid Mahmood and Sana Noor Haq reported from London. CNN’s Renee Bertini, James Frater, and Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this post.