The summer season looks like a waking nightmare for firefighters this year. In France, Spain or Portugal, tens of thousands of hectares of forests have already gone up in smoke, while summer is far from over. Over the year 2022, the areas damaged are much higher than the averages of previous years, particularly in France and Spain (×6 compared to the period 2006-2021), and especially in Hungary and Slovakia (×50). To cope with this deluge of fires, the European Union is trying to distribute aid. Thus, it sent to France, where two major fires are raging in Gironde, two Canadair planes belonging to Greece and two others from Italy.
The country most affected in number of hectares burned, Spain is on alert “extreme risk of fires”, when it announced the death, on Monday, of a shepherd in the north-west of the country, in the day after that of a firefighter. According to authorities in the Zamora region, nearly 6,000 people had to be evacuated urgently. In neighboring Portugal, the thermometer showed 47°C at the end of last week, the highest temperature ever recorded for the month of July. In total, more than 1,400 firefighters are currently fighting various fires, the largest of which are in the north of the country.
Even northern Europe has to deal with destructive fires. In Norway, 2,143 hectares of forest have already gone up in smoke this year, while several fires are currently raging in the eastern and southern suburbs of London. The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, described the situation as “critical” and asked people to call the fire brigade only in case of emergency. A country more accustomed to forest fires, Greece seems to have been overtaken by a fire north of Athens, which required the evacuation of several villages and a children’s hospital.
If the infographic does not display, click here.
The European system of information on forest fires, which indicates on its site the number of fires recorded since the beginning of the year, draws up an alarming report. In France, there are already 224, against 214 over the whole of last year. Same observation in Croatia (61 fires against 19), and in Hungary (45 against 5). The proliferation of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming, and the strong heat waves that now rage more and more frequently. This summer so different from previous ones could therefore become the norm for the following ones.