The fire spread throughout 32,000 people were forced to evacuate 27,000 acres of land in southwestern France’s Gironde region, the local province said Monday night.
The nearby city of Kazaks recorded 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the hottest it has seen since its weather station first opened in 1921 100 years ago, French national weather service Météo France said.
Major cities in western France such as Nantes and Brest also hit new heat records.
In Finistère, on the country’s Atlantic coast, the fire was first reported on Monday afternoon; Within eight hours, the flames had consumed more than 700 acres of land, prompting the evacuation of several villages.
More than 70,000 hectares have been destroyed by fires in Spain this year, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Monday. “Seventy thousand hectares, to give you an idea, is almost twice the average of the last decade,” he said.
The country’s Carlos III Health Institute on Monday estimated a total of more than 510 heat wave-related deaths in the country, based on a statistical calculation of excess deaths.
Hundreds have died in neighboring Portugal, where severe drought is exacerbating the situation.
On Saturday, Portugal’s health ministry said 659 deaths had occurred in the past seven days, mainly elderly people, Reuters reported.
An elderly couple died Monday when their vehicle overturned while fleeing a forest fire in northern Portugal, the country’s state broadcaster RTP reported.
In total, 1,100 people are thought to have died due to the heatwave in southern Europe.
‘Peak of Intensity’
French capital Paris is expected to reach 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday as a heat wave sweeps across the country.
In the UK — temperatures reached 38.1 degrees in Chanton Downham in eastern England on Monday, the third hottest day ever — and officials warned the situation could worsen.
According to Met Office chief executive Penelope Endersby, Tuesday is expected to be “even warmer”.
“Tomorrow is when we actually see temperatures of 40 degrees and above,” Endersby told BBC radio on Monday.
“Even more than that, 41 is not in the cards. We’ve even got some 43s in the model, but we’re hoping it won’t be that many.”
In France, the heat wave is expected to move from the western part of the country on Tuesday and move towards the central and eastern region, including Paris.
Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (KMI/IRM) issued a “code red” weather warning for heat in two provinces on Tuesday, forecasting temperatures of up to 40 Celsius in the west and southwest.
“Some measures are necessary in such extremely high temperatures: drink regularly, wear light clothes, spend the day in cool rooms, monitor your health regularly, eat easily digestible food (and in small portions), close doors and windows. To prevent heat, pets and animals need extra care. ,” it warned residents.
The Joint Research Center highlights that drought is “significant” in much of Europe as “winter-spring precipitation deficits … are exacerbated by early heat waves in May and June”.
The report said water supply could be “compromised” in the coming months.
Speaking to CNN on Monday, University of Oxford professor Miles Allen warned that such heat waves are inevitable if humanity does not reduce its carbon emissions soon.
“This is not a new normal because we’re always on a trend toward warmer temperatures,” Allen told CNN on Monday.
The solution, he said, is transformative across the energy sector. Individual companies are unlikely to change their business models unilaterally due to concerns about losing competitiveness with rivals, he said.
“It should be a regulation across the industry,” Allen said.
Joseph Ataman, Jimmy Hutcheon and Xiafei Xu reported from Paris. Zahid Mahmood and Sana Noor Haq reported from London. CNN’s Renee Bertini, James Frater and Sharon Braithwaite reported for this post.
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