Europe’s heatwave reaches Poland, Greece moves east on its way bringing wildfires with it

Europe’s heatwave reaches Poland, Greece moves east on its way bringing wildfires with it

  • The heatwave is moving east after scorching western Europe
  • Alert about climate change, health effects of rising temperatures
  • Forest fires are still raging in Spain and Portugal
  • New fires break out in Italy, one fire spreads to Slovenia
  • Hundreds have been evacuated in Slovenia as wildfire spread from Italy

ATHENS/MILAN, July 21 (Reuters) – The huge heatwave that blanketed parts of Europe moved steadily east on Thursday, forcing countries including Italy, Poland and Slovenia to issue their highest heatwave warnings as firefighters battle wildfires across the continent fought.

Since temperatures began to rise in southern Europe earlier this month, the heatwave has killed hundreds and sparked wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of hectares of land in countries including Spain, Portugal and France. The UK and France saw record temperatures on Tuesday.

The extreme heat wave is part of a global pattern of rising temperatures that scientists and climatologists have largely attributed to climate change caused by human activity. It is forecast to bring scorching heat to much of China by the end of August. Continue reading

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Greece, which has contained a huge wildfire that raged near Athens for two days and was fanned by strong winds, urged Europe to do more to tackle climate change.

“The climate crisis is now evident across Europe, with particular intensity in the wider Mediterranean region. The cocktail of high temperatures, gusty winds and severe drought will inevitably lead to wildfires,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said on Thursday.

“Europe must act in a coordinated and swift manner to reverse the climate crisis,” Oikonomou told reporters. “The solution cannot be given at the national level because the problem is transnational and huge.”

Greek firefighters fought 390 forest fires in a week, about 50 to 70 fires a day, he said. According to the meteorological station in Penteli near Athens, where the fire broke out on Tuesday, winds reached 113 km/h (70 mph) at times.

Fueled by climate change, wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity in many countries, spreading smoke that contains noxious gases, chemicals and particulate matter that can be harmful to health. Continue reading

MORE FOREST FIRES

In Poland, the authorities issued heat warnings for many parts of the country, and temperatures of up to 36.7 degrees Celsius were measured in the western town of Kornik. In the northern port city of Gdansk, many residents and tourists headed to the surrounding beaches to cool off.

A large wildfire broke out near the southern city of Brzesko, news website Onet reported. Firefighters told Onet that more than 50 hectares (120 acres) of fields had already burned and that the fire was moving towards a forest.

Temperatures in Poland are expected to drop over the weekend.

In Italy, the flames continued to rage in Tuscany and Friuli-Venezia Giulia but did not appear to have spread, Italian news agency ANSA reported. New forest fires have been spotted in the mountains near Bologna and on the A9 motorway north of Milan, it said.

Fourteen cities, including Rome and Milan, were placed on the country’s highest heatwave alert on Thursday, with the number expected to rise to 16 on Friday, the health ministry said.

ANSA also reported that a fire that started in northern Italy near Carso has spread across the border into Slovenia, damaging over 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres).

On the Slovenian side, 400 people had to be evacuated from three villages because of the fire, according to Slovenian news agencies.

Forest fires continued to burn in Portugal and Spain.

Fernando Gimenez, 68, sat in a large sports hall full of cots and plastic chairs and shed tears as he spoke of leaving his home in central Spain, west of Madrid.

Gimenez was one of thousands of residents evacuated from the village of El Hoyo de Pinares because of wildfire.

“I don’t know what I’ll find. burned trees. Nothing. I can’t even think about it,” Gimenez told Reuters. “I feel a kind of emptiness inside,” he added.

The Spanish Red Cross has organized temporary housing for him and hundreds of evacuees.

“We work a lot with them on psychological support because it’s hard to leave home without knowing what’s happening,” said a Red Cross team leader, Belen Lopez.

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Reporting Reuters offices Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky Editing by Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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