Home WORLD EUROPA France and Spain take advantage of a lull in the fire front

France and Spain take advantage of a lull in the fire front

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In the French department of Gironde, located in the southwest, the two fires which have destroyed 20,800 hectares for 10 days have not progressed overnight, local authorities said Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the approximately 2,000 firefighters engaged had succeeded in preventing the progression of the fires thanks to a drop in temperatures and more humid air.

The prefecture had nevertheless warned that nearly 36,750 evacuees could not yet return to their homes.

The remains of a fire-ravaged brick structure.

A camping area devastated by the fires raging in Gironde, at the foot of the Dune du Pilat.

Photo: Reuters / BENOIT TESSIER

In northeastern Spain, the evolution of the Ateca fire was positive in recent hourssaid the regional government on Twitter, which clarified that new beginnings had been immediately extinguished.

This fire, which broke out on Monday, covers an area of ​​14,000 hectares and led to the evacuation of 1,700 people.

The return of the inhabitants to the evacuated villages is getting closer and closer, but we must be carefulsaid the regional president, Javier Lambán.

The section of the A2 motorway, linking Madrid to Barcelona, ​​which had to be closed because of the flames, was reopened to traffic on Thursday morning, according to the regional authorities of Aragon.

The fire in Zamora province in the northwest, one of the worst in recent days and which resulted in the death of a firefighter and a shepherd, was brought under control and remained quiet and flamelesssaid the region of Castile and Leon.

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Spain has been swept in recent days by a wave of devastating fires, favored by the heat wave which lasted from July 9 to 18 and which could be the most extreme on record in the country, according to the national meteorological agency. (AEMET).

A plane flies over a landscape razed by flames.

A Canadair CL-415 aircraft flies over an area scorched by fire near Avila in northwestern Spain.

Photo: AFP / Javier Soriana

On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the heat wave had caused the death more than 500 people in the country.

After a short respite in temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday, Spain was expected to see the mercury rise again on Thursday: 41 ºC were expected in Extremadura and 40 ºC in Andalusia, while much of the territory remains on alert.

The situation is worse than expected

The forest fires that have raged in Europe in recent weeks have already affected more area than in the whole of 2021, according to the European specialized monitoring service.

Since the beginning of the year, the fires have burned 517,881 hectares in the 27 countries of the European Union, or just over 5,000 km2 – the equivalent of the surface area of ​​the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

If the trend continues, 2022 could thus equal or exceed 2017, the worst year recorded in the EU since the creation of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), in 2000.

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That year, 988,087 hectares of vegetation had gone up in smoke, or nearly 10,000 km2or the approximate area of ​​Lebanon.

The situation is even worse than expected, although we expected temperature anomalies from the forecast [météo] long-termexplains to AFP Jesus San Miguel, coordinator of theEFFIS.

The heat wave is decisive and clearly linked to global warming. »

A quote from Jesus San Miguel, coordinator of the European Forest Fire Information System

We knew it was going to be a rough summer and we expect it to continue, we’re not even halfway through the fire seasonunderlines Mr. San Miguel. Previously the season was concentrated from July to September, now we have longer seasons and very intense fires.

Nearly 40,000 hectares have burned in France since the start of the year, compared to just over 30,000 for the whole of 2021. In Spain, nearly 190,000 hectares have been burned, compared to almost 85,000 in 2021.

Even countries not used to forest fires, such as Great Britain where the temperature for the first time exceeded 40 ° C this week, see the affected areas evaporate: a little more than 20,000 hectares have burned there since the start of the year, compared to just over 6,000 in 2021, according to theEFFIS.

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