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Europe endures another summer of wildfires, droughts amid scorching temperatures

Europe is battling the effects of scorching temperatures which have reached worrying levels globally, with July being the hottest month recorded on both land and sea.

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Last year, heatwaves resulted in over 61,600 heat-related fatalities across 35 European countries and triggered devastating wildfires. This year, temperatures could exceed Europe’s current record of 48.8 degrees Celsius, recorded in Sicily in August 2021.

Below is a list of the most recent blazes and heat-related warnings issued in Europe.


Two thousand people were evacuated on Aug. 15 as a fire burned through 500 hectares of land and destroyed a campsite in the south of France, near Perpignan, fuelled by intense heat, dryness and very high winds. The blaze was quickly brought under control.

Another broke out on Aug. 20 in the southern Hautes-Alpes region of France, burning at least 140 hectares. It was the biggest blaze the region has faced in the last 20 years, media reported.

Small-scale blazes have been recorded across the country throughout the summer. Mid-April the French geological service BRGM said that very low groundwater levels had put France on course for a worse summer drought than last year.


Wildfires have been raging uncontrollably near Alexandroupolis since Aug. 19, forcing the evacuation of dozens of hospital patients. One person has died.

Fires have been scorching Greece since the beginning of summer.

Mid-July, 20,000 people were evacuated on the island of Rhodes as an inferno reached coastal resorts on the island’s southeast. A wildfire also forced evacuations from the island of Corfu during the night of July 25-26.

Read moreIn pictures: Greece faces longest heatwave on record as wildfires force evacuations


Central and southern regions of Italy recorded 7% more deaths than normal in July after a baking heatwave, health ministry data showed, while firefighters on Aug. 7 battled fires on the island of Sardinia. Six hundred people were evacuated.

Rome registered a new record high temperature of 41.8 Celsius, the weather service of the local Lazio region reported.


The wildfire that started on Aug. 5 in the south of Portugal was tamed, authorities said four days later. The blaze destroyed around 8,400 hectares of forest, according to preliminary data, and forced the evacuation of around 1,400 people.

Portugal’s authorities declared some 120 municipalities across Portugal at maximum risk of wildfires due to the heat.


Tenerife is the latest Canary island to struggle with a blaze, which broke out on Aug. 15 in a mountainous national park, burning some 12,800 hectares and forcing the evacuation of more than 12,000 people.

Region leader Fernando Clavijo said it was the “most complex fire” they faced in the Canary Islands in the last 40 years. The fire was close to being stabilised, authorities said on Aug. 21.

In July, firefighters were battling an uncontrollable wildfire that started on July 15 on the island of La Palma which led to the evacuation of at least 4,000 people. The fire was brought under control by the end of the month.

Spain has endured a prolonged period of drought, with the first four months of 2023 being the driest on record.



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