As Europe bakes in heatwave, wildfires rage from Portugal to Croatia

(EurActiv, 14 Jul 2022) Wildfires raged across tinder-dry country in Portugal, Spain, France and Croatia on Thursday (14 July), burning homes and threatening livelihoods, as much of Europe baked in a heatwave that has pushed temperatures into the mid-40Cs in some countries.

In Portugal’s central Leiria district, tired firefighters battled to control blazes that have been fanned by strong winds. Footage from the area on Wednesday showed smoke darkening the sky and billowing across a highway, while flames licked around the roofs of houses in one small village.

“Yesterday was a very tough day,” Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said as he attended a briefing with the national meteorological institute IPMA.

“It is absolutely crucial we avoid new events because it leads to the exhaustion of firefighters and all others … who are doing their best to control the situation.”

The most concerning blaze was near the town of Pombal, where on Thursday aircraft and helicopters dropped water on flames that were tearing down a hillside lined with highly flammable pine and eucalyptus trees.

“When it gets to the eucalyptus it’s like an explosion,” Antonio, an elderly resident of the nearby village of Gesteira, said as he anxiously watched the approaching flames.

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EurActiv, 14 Jul 2022: As Europe bakes in heatwave, wildfires rage from Portugal to Croatia