Firefighters battle Spanish wildfires in euro heatwave of 108F

Firefighters battle Spanish wildfires as 11 villages are evacuated in heatwave that has brought scorching 108F temperatures to Europe

  • Brits may have been sweltering yesterday what was the hottest day of the year so far for the UK
  • But elsewhere in Europe the mercury kept climbing amid a searing heatwave which triggered wildfires
  • Almost 20,000 hectares of land has been burned in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range in Spain
  • Around 500 firefighters are still tackling the blazes which have been whipped up in windy conditions
  • In France, some 18 million people woke to heat wave alerts affecting about a third of the country Friday
  • Temperatures in southern France reached a brutal 109F and schoolchildren were told to stay home

Brits may have been sweltering yesterday what was the hottest day of the year for the UK, with many in London and the south of England experiencing temperatures of more than 90F.

But elsewhere in Europe the mercury kept climbing amid a searing heatwave which exacerbated wildfires in Spain and prompted evacuations from several villages. 

Spain was already heading towards its hottest early summer temperatures in decades this week, with forecasts of between 104-108F in northeast and northwest Spain, according to national weather agency AEMET.

The baking heat combined with windy conditions has triggered wildfires in several areas, with Zamora, near the northwestern border with Portugal, among the worst hit.

Almost 20,000 hectares of land had been burned in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range and the fire was ‘still active’, said a tweet today from the regional government of Castile and Leon, where Zamora is located.

On Saturday afternoon, it said 11 villages had been evacuated and some 500 firefighters were battling to extinguish the terrifying blaze.

Members of the Military Emergencies Unit work to extinguish a wildfire near Artesa de Segre, Spain, June 16, 2022

Some 500 firefighters are battling to extinguish the terrifying blaze in Spain, whipped up by strong winds amid brutally hot temperatures

An AS-350 ‘Ecureuil’ fire-fighting helicopter takes part in fire containment operations in Artesa de Segre, in Catalonia

A member of the Military Emergencies Unit looks on while he works to extinguish a wildfire near Artesa de Segre, Spain, June 16, 2022

This photograph taken on June 17, 2022 shows a pharmacy sign displaying the temperature of 42,5 Celsius degrees in Bordeaux, south-western France

People take a bath in the river Limmat at Letten, as a heat wave reaches the country, in Zurich, Switzerland, 18 June 2022

A woman passes her hand under the spray of a fountain in the city of Perpignan, southern France on June 17, 2022

In Catalonia, firefighters who were trying to bring a fire under control in Baldomar said they expected Saturday to be ‘complicated’ by ‘very high temperatures and a strong southerly wind’.

Flames crackled and raged high into the air on the outskirts of the village of Caudiel, in Castellon, eastern Spain.

Firefighters, wearing masks, goggles and helmets, struggled to bring the flames under control. They helped evacuate residents, some of whom dragged along their pet dogs and horses, as smoke wafted through the village.

‘This is evidence of climate change,’ Bernardo Funes, 63, a stallholder and organic farmer in Zaragoza, told Reuters. ‘It’s very worrying because… we’ve already had highs of 34, 35 degrees in May and now in June, it’s something like 44 degrees.’

The northeastern Spanish city’s farmers market is typically a hive of activity on Saturday afternoon, but today the stall owners and visitors alike simply rested in the shade and tried their best to keep hydrated as the mercury reached 107.6F at 4pm.

Outside the city’s grand cathedral, Marisa Gutierrez was sitting beneath a shaded canopy that displayed the lottery tickets she was selling.

‘It’s been very bad, with a hot wind that felt as if it was from the desert,’ she told Reuters. ‘This isn’t normal… at this time of year there’s usually a pleasant temperature but not this heat.’

Meanwhile at a stag do in the city centre, participants, dressed as Romans, said they were having to drink as much water as beer.

People walk past a street thermometer reading 46 degrees celsius as near record temperatures continue to affect the country, in Bilbao, Spain June 17, 2022

A man cools off in The Trocadero Fountains in front of The Eiffel Tower in Paris on June 18, 2022, amid record high temperatures sweeping across France and western Europe

A helicopter overflies a wildfire near Artesa de Segre, Spain, June 16, 2022

In France, special measures have been taken in care homes for elderly people, still marked by the memory of a deadly 2003 heatwave. Pictured: A solitary plant grows on a dry bank of the Loire River, in Montjean-sur-Loire

It’s not just Spain bearing the brunt of the brutal euro heatwave. Many areas of Western Europe have been sweltering under unseasonably hot temperatures over the past few days, compounding climate change fears.

Meteorologists say the unusually early heatwave is a sign of what’s to come as global warming continues, moving up in the calendar the temperatures that Europe would previously have seen only in July and August.

‘In some parts of Spain and France, temperatures are more than 10 degrees higher – that´s huge – than the average for this time of year,’ Clare Nullis, a spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, said.

In France, some 18 million people woke to heat wave alerts affecting about a third of the country Friday, and forest fire warnings were issued from the Pyrenees in the south to the Paris region.

The southwestern French city of Bordeaux saw the mercury peak at 108.5 yesterday, while people as far north as Paris were seen dipping in the city’s fountains to cool off. Temperatures in Montpellier even reached 114F this week.

A man cools off in The Trocadero Fountains across from the Eiffel Tower in Paris on June 18, 2022

A woman refreshes at a fountain in Casa de Campo during a heatwave in Madrid, Spain

Women wearing hats to protect themselves from the sun stand near a public fountain in Nice as an early heatwave hits France, June 16, 2022

A man cools off in a fountain in the Lustgarten during hot summer weather temperatures on June 18, 2022 in Berlin, Germany

The German weather service issued a heat warning due to temperatures expected to reach 34 degrees Celsius, which is unseasonably hot for June

In Gironde, southwest of France, public events outdoors have been banned ‘until the heatwave ends’. Indoor events at venues without air-conditioning have also prohibited.

Meanwhile schoolchildren in the 12 ‘red alert’ areas were told to stay home, and care home residents were rotated through air-conditioned rooms. 

‘Everyone now faces a health risk,’ local official Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio, while a climatologist at national weather service Meteo France told public broadcaster France-Info that temperatures are expected to break several records. 

In the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, people boarded trains to the nearest North Sea beach early Friday afternoon while others took to boats and stand-up paddle boards on one of the city’s historic ring of canals.

And in Germany, firefighters were tackling several wildfires including one south of the capital Berlin on Friday, as the national weather service predicted that the big sweat would continue over the weekend.

Authorities are also ordering citizens to ration water in northern Italy and parts of France and Germany.

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