Deadly wildfires in Europe and North Africa: Path of death and destruction

Deadly wildfires in Europe and North Africa: Path of death and destruction 

Kanako Mita and Noriko Watanabe 

Modern Tokyo Times

Deadly wildfires have broken out throughout the Meditteranean and further afield in parts of Europe and North Africa. According to various sources, at least 1,000 people have died because of the deadly heatwave engulfing Spain and Portugal. Other nations – from Morocco to France – have also been hit severely. Therefore, entire communities hit by deadly wildfires are in shock. 

The wildfires engulfing parts of France, Morocco, Portugal, Spain – and other nations – are testing firefighters to the maximum because of the sheer number of outbreaks. Deaths are occurring mainly from the horrendous heatwave. However, some people have also perished because of the brutal wildfires that break out and spread rapidly. 

The BBC reports, “In Spain and Portugal, more than 1,000 deaths have been attributed to the heat in recent days. A forest fire in Losacio in the northwest left one firefighter dead on Sunday and the body of a 69-year-old shepherd was found on Monday.”

In Portugal, the main crisis is in the north of the country. Notably, east of Porto. Thus the memories of 2017, when roughly 100 perished from the consequences of severe heat, are flooding back. 

The Guardian reports, “Thousands of people in Portugal, Spain, France and Morocco have been evacuated from their homes as firefighters tackle wildfires caused by this week’s heatwave, which has brought extreme temperatures of more than 45C (113F) to parts of Europe and North Africa.”

Portugal’s Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) – with temperatures reaching 46.3C in the town of Lousã – declared, “This is not a very normal situation, and it is serious in all aspects.”

In Morocco, temperatures in the 45C range are devastating the country. The armed forces, civil defense workers, the national police, and firefighters collectively seek to quell the wildfires. This notably applies to the north of the country. 

Reuters reports, “In France, wildfires have now spread over 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the southwestern region of Gironde, and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated, regional authorities said on Sunday afternoon.”

Associated Press (AP), reports, “Spain, meanwhile, reported a second fatality in two days in its own blazes. The body of a 69-year-old sheep farmer was found Monday in the same hilly area where a 62-year-old firefighter died a day earlier when he was trapped by flames in the northwestern Zamora province. More than 30 forest fires around Spain have forced the evacuation of thousands of people and blackened 220 square kilometers (85 square miles) of forest and scrub.”

Lee Jay Walker says, “In history, a brutal heatwave led to the deaths of roughly 46,000 in France. This happened in 1911. Severe drought and high temperatures lasted more than two months. Other European nations were also hit by severe heat during the same year.”

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