NewsForest fires across Europe: Most devastating forest fire year...

Forest fires across Europe: Most devastating forest fire year in Spain this century

Created: 07/22/2022 Updated: 7/22/2022, 7:22 p.m

Europe is suffering from a severe heat wave. Forest fires are raging across the continent, keeping the fire brigades in suspense. In Spain it is the worst forest fire year since records began.

  • Extreme risk of fire and long heat wave in Greece : meteorologists warn of high temperatures.
  • Record fires in Spain : Flames are already destroying more hectares of forest this year than ever before.
  • Forest fires in Italy : motorway and two beaches temporarily closed.
  • The news ticker is continuously updated.

Update from July 22, 7:01 p.m.: Dramatic numbers came from Spain on Friday. 2022 is already the most devastating forest fire year there this century. In the first seven months of the current year, the flames destroyed more than 197,000 hectares of forest, the state TV broadcaster RTVE reported, citing the European earth observation system Copernicus. That is already more than in the entire previous record year since records began. The highest value so far was in 2012, when the forest fires in Spain destroyed 189,376 hectares.

Waldbrand in Pont de Vilomara und Manresa in Katalanion ist bereits unter Kontrolle. Im laufenden Jahr 2022 wurden in Spanien schon jetzt mehr Hektar Wald von Flammen
The forest fire in Pont de Vilomara and Manresa in Catalonia is already under control. In the current year 2022, more hectares of forest have been destroyed by flames in Spain than ever before (archive image, July 17, 2022). © IMAGO/Eric Renom/Photo only

Heat wave in Europe: The heat warning applies in 16 Italian cities on Friday

Update from July 22, 3:51 p.m .: Italy’s current heat wave should reach its preliminary peak on Friday. A heat warning was in place for 16 cities from south to north – including Milan, where temperatures were expected to hit 40 degrees, and Bologna and Rome, where peaks of 39 degrees were expected. The northern Italian city of Padua had already broken its previous heat record the day before with 39.6 degrees.

According to the website, there is no sign of the situation easing. Temperatures in Italy have been two to three degrees above the seasonal average for the past three months, and this is likely to continue until early August, said. The persistent drought, mostly in connection with people as the cause, causes new forest fires again and again. The Italian fire brigade reported dozens of operations on Thursday alone. The largest fire near the municipality of Massarosa (Tuscany) has already destroyed more than 860 hectares, and around a thousand people had to be brought to safety. The Lucca public prosecutor is investigating possible arson.

According to the European earth observation program Copernicus, more than 27,570 hectares of land have been devastated by fires in Italy since the beginning of the year. In France there are more than 39,900 hectares, in Spain more than 199,650 hectares, in Romania more than 149,324 hectares and in Portugal more than 48,100 hectares.

Forest fires in Europe: Extreme risk of fire and long heat wave in Greece

Update from July 22, 11:51 a.m .: A forest area in the west of the Greek-Turkish border river Evros is threatened by a major fire. The flames are raging on the edge of Dadia National Park. This is one of the largest forest areas in south-eastern Europe. The Greek fire brigade announced on Friday that four helicopters, four fire-fighting aircraft and the crews of 65 fire-fighting vehicles were in action. The rough terrain complicates the extinguishing work, said the chief of the region’s fire department, Konstantinos Koukouras, the Greek TV channel Mega.

Due to the prolonged drought, there is an extreme risk of fire in large parts of Greece. There doesn’t seem to be any improvement in sight. For large parts of the country, meteorologists are expecting a long heat wave that is expected to last until early August. The thermometers in Athens showed 30 degrees Celsius early on Friday morning. On the weekend and in the days after, temperatures should reach around 40 degrees, according to the Meteorological Office.

It is dangerous that even at night the temperatures in many places do not fall below 30 degrees – this makes it difficult for residents and holidaymakers to recover from the heat. The meteorologists do not expect a drop to the normal maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees for the next ten days. The islands of the Aegean such as Skopelos, Mykonos, Santorini and Syros as well as the mountainous regions of the mainland are spared from the heat wave because of the sea breezes.

Eleven forest fires active in Spain – at least 80,000 hectares of forest destroyed

Update from July 22, 7:08 a.m .: Some countries in Europe reported progress in fighting fires despite persistent drought and high temperatures. According to the responsible authorities, eleven forest fires were still active in Spain on Thursday afternoon. Most of these fires will soon be under control, it said. By Thursday, the fires, which had been rampant for a week, had destroyed at least 80,000 hectares of forest in Spain. This is an area larger than the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. The situation also improved in Portugal.

Forest fires in Europe: a sigh of relief in France

Update from July 21, 8:51 p.m .: The Italian fire brigade is still fighting forest fires. Civil protection sent fire-fighting planes to numerous regions, including the holiday islands of Sardinia and Sicily, as well as Tuscany and the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, which borders Slovenia. The violent forest fires on the French Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux, on the other hand, have calmed down somewhat. They are almost under control, said the responsible prefecture according to dpa.

Das Foto zeigt ein verbranntes Waldstück; über den schwarzen Baumresten dampft es noch.
The fire in Tuscany’s Massarosa hills has been extinguished. For three days, 4 planes and 6 helicopters fought the flames that burned around 700 hectares of forest. © Federico Neri IMAGO / Pacific Press Agency

Forest fires could burn record area: “Situation is even worse than expected”

Update from July 21, 4:51 p.m .: The European Union is concerned that the forest fires blazing in Europe could reach record dimensions. The currently raging forest fires in southern Europe could possibly surpass the devastating year 2017. This is the assessment of the European forest fire information system (Effis). According to this, more area has been destroyed so far than in the whole of 2021.

According to Effis, 517,881 hectares have scorched in the European Union since the beginning of the year. This corresponds to more than twice the area of Saarland. “The situation is even worse than expected,” Effis coordinator Jesús San Miguel told AFP.

He fears that if the trend continues, the forest fires will burn even more area than in 2017 – the worst year since Effis records began. At that time, 990,000 hectares had been destroyed.

Forest fires on France’s Atlantic coast ‘almost under control’

Update from July 21, 2:29 p.m .: Good news from France: The violent forest fires on the Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux are said to be “almost under control”. This was announced by the responsible prefecture on Twitter. Accordingly, the fires in Landiras and La Teste-de-Buch have hardly spread. Firefighters were able to contain the fires that flared up again.

The forest fires in the region have been raging for more than a week and have already destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of land.

Forest fires cause gas tanks to explode in Tuscany

Update from July 21, 12:08 p.m .: Regional President Eugenio Giani said that several gas tanks exploded in Tuscany on Wednesday night (July 20) during the forest fires in the municipality of Massarosa near Lucca. These are often in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings. Over 100 firefighters are deployed in the area on Thursday (July 21). They receive air support from three fire-fighting helicopters and three Canadair fire-fighting aircraft. Authorities announced that around 570 people have been evacuated from their homes in various parts of the community so far.

The forest fire that had been blazing there for a few days had spread again on Wednesday due to strong winds. A total of almost 870 hectares have already been affected by the flames, according to officials in the popular holiday region. Civil Defense received 25 requests for firefighting assistance from all over Italy. The authority sent its planes to numerous regions, including the holiday islands of Sardinia and Sicily as well as Tuscany and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Forest fires in Italy: highway and two beaches temporarily closed

Update from July 21, 9:56 a.m .: In Italy, several regions are affected by severe forest fires. Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the northeast of the country is also fighting the flames. On Tuesday and Wednesday (July 19/20), Autovie Venete had to completely close the A4 in the direction of Trieste between Redipuglia and Sistiana. Employees at the toll booths there had to be brought to safety from the effects of the fires. Holiday traffic came to a standstill, resulting in major traffic jams.

Hubschrauber fliegen Löscheinsätze in der Nähe von Triest (Italien), wo ein großer Waldbrand wütet
Helicopters fly extinguishing missions near Trieste (Italy), where a large forest fire is raging. © Luka Dakskobler/dpa

Rail traffic also had to be stopped. The route from Venice to Trieste could no longer be used between the port city of Monfalcone and Duino Aurisina. Travelers could no longer reach Trieste train station. Dense clouds of smoke formed over the popular holiday resort of Grado on the Gulf of Trieste, caused by a fire in nearby Monfalcone. Two beaches in Grado had to be closed in the meantime.

Forest fires in France, Portugal and Italy: Several fatalities and hundreds injured

Update from July 20, 11 p.m.: The situation on Wednesday (July 20) was still dramatic in southern European countries. On the southern French Atlantic coast, the fire brigade has been fighting two large forest fires for more than a week. In Portugal, as the civil defense ANEPC announced , 1,200 emergency services had to fight a total of 25 larger and smaller forest fires on Wednesday morning.

According to the ANEPC , 1,055 people had to leave their settlements due to the fires of the past few days. At least 3 people died and 223 were injured, 6 of them seriously. In Tuscany, Italy, more than 100 firefighters continued to fight a large forest fire near the city of Lucca. Around 500 residents in the area of the municipality of Massarosa were evacuated. Regional President Eugenio Giani tweeted on Wednesday morning that some gas tanks had exploded.

Border region with Italy: villages in Slovenia evacuated

Update from July 20, 9:00 p.m.: Several hundred firefighters fought a forest fire in western Slovenia on Wednesday (July 20), which could possibly become the worst fire in the country’s history. The fire broke out the day before in the forested Karst, where vegetation had dried out from the intense heat. In the region near the border with Italy, alarm sirens were sounded in several communities on Wednesday afternoon, during which the wind had further fanned the flames, and some villages were evacuated, according to rescue workers.

“We will never be able to contain the fire in one day,” predicted Srecko Sestan of civil protection, according to news website N1 , “Let’s hope it doesn’t become the worst in history.”

Das Foto zeigt den Brand. Zu sehen sind dunkelgraue Rauchwolken über einem Wald. Zwischen dem Rauch ist das Feuer zu sehen.
The fire in Slovenia is raging in the Karst region, near the Italian border. © IMAGO / Italy Photo Press

Persistent fires near Bordeaux: Macron visits victims in France

Update from July 20, 7:10 p.m .: French President Emmanuel Macron has now visited the forest fire area on the southern French Atlantic coast. Two large forest fires have been raging south of Bordeaux near La-Teste-de-Buch and Landiras for more than a week. The flames destroyed more than 20,600 hectares of land, and a total of around 36,750 people had to be evacuated preventively. According to Macron, the emergency services are now in the process of getting the fire at La-Teste-de-Buch under control. However, it will take several weeks for the situation to stabilize.

Carella umarmt Macron; ihr Gesicht ist verweint, der Präsident spendet der tapferen Frau Trost.
Sandrune Carella (left), owner of the Pyla campsite that burned down in the recent forest fire, hugs Emmanuel Macron, President of France, during his visit to La-Teste-de-Buch. © picture alliance/dpa/AP Pool | Bob Edme

For the future, the President sees some room for improvement. “The use of the forest was not good,” said Macron, which made the work of the emergency services more difficult. Burned areas should be planted again quickly, but better prevention should be ensured with regard to further fires. For example, forest paths are needed that are maintained, and the work of the security forces must be better adapted to climate change. During his visit to Gironde, which was badly hit by the forest fires, Macron also thanked the firefighters and also met operators whose campsites were destroyed by the fire.

Forest fires in Europe: Popular hiking area affected

Update from July 20, 4:41 p.m .: The forest fires in north-eastern Italy have now also spread to the Slovenian karst area. Residents of the border villages of Sela na Krasu, Hudi Log, Korita na Krasu and Nova Vas were evacuated on Wednesday, news portal reported. 600 firefighters and helpers were deployed to fight the flames, said Srecko Sestan, commander of the Slovenian civil defense.

Three houses caught fire, five firefighters suffered minor injuries, it said. In the Slovenian Karst, the emergency services have to fight several sources of fire. The extinguishing work is made more difficult by the heavy smoke development. Italy helped the neighboring country on Wednesday with two firefighting planes and two helicopters.

The Karst (Slovenian: Kras) is a high plateau in western Slovenia characterized by forests, meadows, underground rivers and caves. It is especially popular with hikers.

Summer heat in Spain: temperatures cause over 500 deaths

Update from July 20, 3:17 p.m .: The heat wave in Europe is causing more and more deaths. According to the government, hundreds of people have already died in Spain. As a result of the almost ten-day heat wave, “more than 500 people” died, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Wednesday, citing excess mortality data from a public health institute.

According to preliminary data from the Spanish weather service, the heat wave was also the most intense ever measured in Spain. It lasted from July 9th to 18th and gave the Spaniards temperatures of over 45 degrees.

At 4.2 degrees, it had the “strongest temperature anomaly” since data collection began in 1975, said Aemet spokeswoman Beatriz Hervella. The temperature anomaly describes the deviation from average temperature values and illustrates the intensity of heat waves. According to Hervella, it was also the third longest heat episode in Spain. Only in 2015 (26 days) and 2003 (16 days) did the country suffer from very high temperatures for longer. However, the most recent heat wave could still overtake its predecessors.

Although it was declared over on Monday, temperatures have only fallen slightly since then. The Aemet could therefore explain in retrospect that the heat wave is still ongoing. Massive fires have broken out across the country since last week because of the exceptionally high temperatures. A firefighter and a shepherd were killed in the Zamora province.

Major fire near Athens partially under control

Update from July 20, 1:05 p.m .: The major fire in northeast Athens has now been partially brought under control. However, the all-clear cannot be given. “The situation is a little better,” said the spokesman for the Greek fire brigade, Ioannis Artopoios, on the Greek news channel Skai. The emergency services are now trying to “circle” the numerous sources of fire in order to then completely extinguish them, he added. Numerous fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters are still in use.

Griechenland - Athen, Feuerwehrleute haben ihre Bemühungen zur Eindämmung eines Lauffeuers wieder aufgenommen
Forest fires near Athens: firefighters fight flames with helicopters. © IMAGO/Sotiris Dimitropoulos / Eurokinissi

Firefighters fight two large forest fires in southern France

Update from July 20, 12:19 p.m .: The fire brigade has been fighting two large forest fires on the southern French Atlantic coast for more than a week. The flames continued to spread on Wednesday night, but only by 300 hectares, according to the prefecture responsible for Gironde. A total of 20,600 hectares of land burned near Landiras and Teste-de-Buch south of Bordeaux. That is slightly less than the area of the city of Stuttgart. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected on site on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, with strong winds and local drought, fires are also causing problems in other parts of France. In Brittany, more than 1700 hectares burned in a large forest fire near Brasparts. Hundreds of people were evacuated from the fire.

Extreme heat wave: Forest fires rage across Europe

First report from July 20, 2022:

Athens – The heat wave in Europe never ends. In many places, temperatures have even reached 40 degrees in the past few days. The dryness and drought causes numerous forest fires, especially in southern Europe. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated near the Greek capital Athens because of violent forest fires. Fighting the fires is particularly difficult due to strong winds blowing from alternating directions, a spokesman for the local fire department said on Wednesday, July 20

Forest fires threaten villages near Athens – fire brigade fights against 117 forest fires in Greece

Around 500 firefighters, 120 fire engines, three airplanes and four helicopters were deployed on the morning of July 20 to prevent the fires that broke out on Tuesday afternoon from spreading to the villages of Penteli, Pallini, Anthousa and Gerakas.

The fire brigade was on duty all over Greece because of 117 forest fires. The government convened a crisis unit and asked other European countries for support. In Athens, parts of the ring road around the city were closed to traffic, as the operator announced on the short message service Twitter. The buildings evacuated as a precaution in the capital region include residential buildings, a children’s clinic and the National Observatory in Athens.

According to a report by the television station ERT, there is no information about injuries so far. According to media reports, an 80-year-old man killed himself out of desperation. “The embers fell from the sky, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said an elderly resident of the suburb of Anthousa on TV station ERT.

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Heat wave in Europe: numerous forest fires in Italy – gas tanks exploded

Italy is also badly affected. In Tuscany, more than 100 firefighters continued to fight a large forest fire near the city of Lucca on Wednesday. Around 500 residents in the area of the municipality of Massarosa were brought to safety from the flames, the fire brigade said on Wednesday morning. Video from the night showed the flames raging near a settlement. Regional President Eugenio Gianin tweeted that some gas tanks had exploded. Some sides of the fire front would have stretched because of strong winds. The operation has been running since last Sunday.

Italien, Massarosa: Die italienische Feuerwehr ist bei einem Waldbrand im Einsatz. Laut des toskanischen Zivilschutzes hätten die Nacht über Winde aus Nordosten die Flammen weiter angetrieben.
Italy, Massarosa: The Italian fire brigade is in action in a forest fire. According to the Tuscan civil protection, the flames continued to be driven by winds from the northeast overnight. © Vigili del Fuoco/dpa

On the holiday islands of Sicily and Sardinia, there is an increased, sometimes the highest, forest fire warning level. The fires often spread quickly because of the drought that has persisted for some time and are fanned by winds. The fires are often caused by negligent behavior by people or by arson.

The extinguishing work also continued on the Italian-Slovenian border due to a forest fire on Wednesday. According to the fire department, an area in the municipality of Doberdò, south of Gorizia (Gorizia), was affected. According to rescue workers, the situation is improving.

Heat wave in Europe: Not only the south affected – forest fires near London after the hottest day in history

But not only the south is affected, numerous fires are also blazing in Germany. Partly laid by fire devils, as in Bavaria. And even England, thought to be cool and rainy, is burning. At least 16 firefighters were injured fighting fires in London on the hottest day in Britain’s history. Two emergency services were temporarily treated in clinics, the British capital’s deputy fire chief, Jonathan Smith, told Times Radio on Wednesday. The fire brigade worked under unprecedented conditions. There have been more than 1000 emergency calls, most of them because of the heat. Smith warned of more fires despite significantly lower temperatures on Wednesday. The ground is still completely dry.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke of the busiest day for fire services since World War II. Two major fires in east London in particular caused a stir. The day before, more than 40 degrees Celsius had been measured in Great Britain for the first time since records began. (md with dpa/AFP)

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