Europe scorches as record heat wave moves east, blazes Greece, Italy and France
Temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (near 38 degrees Celsius) are forecast for Germany, Hungary and Italy today or in the next few days.
The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) said on Wednesday that 19 European countries were in “extreme danger” from forest fires, spanning from Portugal and Spain to the southwest to Albania and Turkey to the southeast.
On the outskirts of the Greek capital, Athens, firefighters are tackling large blazes where wind is fanning flames and smoke and hampering containment efforts. At least 600 people were evacuated, including from a children’s hospital, authorities said.
“Our top priority remains the safeguarding of human lives. But also that of vital public infrastructure as well as the property of citizens,” said Greek firefighters spokesman Ioannis Artopoios, during a televised briefing in the early hours of Wednesday morning. .
Huge clouds of smoke remain visible in the city on Wednesday, despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters. Romanian firefighter teams were mobilized to assist the operation.
In France, planes continued to dump water on scorching landscapes. The fires have been raging there for a week, when they progressed “very little” Tuesday evening in Gironde, according to local authorities. Smoke swirled above the Brennilis nuclear power station in Brittany on Wednesday morning.
There has been some respite in the UK, where temperatures have fallen from a record high of 40.3C (104.5F) on Tuesday in 20 years. But some residential areas around London have been left in ruins after fires broke out in parts of the capital, stretching fire services to their limits.
“Yesterday was the busiest day for firefighters in London since the Second World War,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky News on Wednesday. London had no fire engines available at one point in the afternoon amid unprecedented demand, a senior firefighter with the London Fire Department’s Special Rescue Team told CNN.
‘Apocalyptic’ scenes as Europe adjusts to new reality
As countries in the region grapple with the immediate effects of extreme heat, many are also grappling with a climate reality that has posed new risks to the continent.
People in some badly affected parts of Europe hit their leaders as extreme temperatures devastated their regions.
A campsite owner told CNN affiliate BFMTV on Tuesday that “we have requests” for President Emmanuel Macron, who will travel to the ravaged southwest on Wednesday.
“We hope that he will be able to order the public services very quickly to help us, to accompany us in the administrative procedures to restore the campsite to working order as soon as possible”, declared Stéphane Carella, co-owner of Pyla Camping. whose site was destroyed by fire.
“It all went up in smoke,” he said, with about 90% of his property affected by the fire. Carella described the remains of the site as “apocalyptic”.
Until Tuesday, the threat of wildfires in the UK was rarely considered by politicians or locals. But many places in southern England were engulfed in smoke on the hottest day on record in the country.
A resident of Wennington, a London suburb hit by fire on Tuesday, told CNN the gardens on his street were “like a powder keg” in the days leading up to the blaze.
Stock lost his house, eight chickens and two beehives when the fire broke out.
“I didn’t sleep last night. I was in the hotel room thinking about how bad this could have been,” he said. “I just thank God that everyone got out alive.”
He added: “We’ve lost everything. But when we get back we can clean up the site, put up some fencing, buy a few mobile homes and we’ll start over.”
Elinda Labropoulou, Chris Stern, Nina dos Santos, Robert Shackleford, Madalena Araujo, Alex Hardie, Bianca Nobilo and CNN’s Joseph Ataman contributed reporting.