Europe heatwave: Scorching 40C blast to spark chaos amid 'risks of fire outbreaks' warning

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Heatwave: Expert warns of ‘unprecedented’ hot period

More than a dozen French departments remain on orange alert on Friday as the country’s authorities warn residents of hot weather conditions that could significantly impact their health, homes and day-to-day activities.

Some 14 areas have been put labelled as such: Ardèche, Dordogne, Drôme, Gard; Haute-Garonne, Gers, Gironde, Landes, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne and Vaucluse.

In France’s South-West, where the sun is shining, a very hot air mass could send temperatures soaring to 38C in the afternoon.

In the Midi-Toulousain, it could get even hotter to 40C.

The scorching heat is also expected near the Mediterranean, with forecaster La Chaîne Météo warning of the danger of fires.

It said: “Winds are rising, accentuating again the risks of fire outbreaks.”

Dangerous blazes have broken out this week across the country.

READ MORE: Level 4 heatwave warning – Who’s at risk and how hot will it get?

European heatwave

A heatwave in Europe is sparking devastating wildfires across the continent (Image: GETTY/WXCHARTS)

France heatwave map

Temperatures in France are set to hit 38C on Friday afternoon (Image: WXCHARTS)

In the Gironde region, more than 6,000 people were evacuated from campsites as firefighters tackled two wildfires – one of them in the Atlantic Arcachon Bay area, with heavy clouds of dark smoke seen rising in the sky.

The biggest fire was in the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux, which forced the closure of roads and the evacuation of 500 residents.

Wildfires also brought chaos to Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

Around 3,500 firefighters in Portugal are battling dozens of blazes, as temperatures break records by surpassing 45C in various parts of the country.

In Spain’s western region of Extremadura bordering Portugal, firefighters battled a blaze that swept into the Salamanca province in the region of Castile and Leon, burning more than 4,000 hectares.

Spain's heatwave

Spain’s area bordering Portugal has seen particularly extreme temperatures (Image: WXCHARTS)

Heatwave in Turkey

Extreme heat has also hit Turkey, a top destination among Britons (Image: WXCHARTS)

The national AEMET meteorology Service said parts of the Extremadura, Andalusia and Galicia regions were on red alert for extreme heat, adding that the Huelva province had reached a blistering 45.6C on Wednesday.

In Turkey, more than 3,000 people were evacuated because of a wildfire in the south-western Datca peninsula, where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas meet.

Nine helicopters, five aircraft and several other firefighting vehicles were sent to the region as footage broadcast on TV showed smoke billowing from trees as it spread through woodland in the touristic area.

The blaze awoke memories of last summer’s fires, which ravaged 140,000 hectares (345,950 acres) of Turkish countryside – the worst on record.

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Wildfire in Turkey

Smoke billowing from trees burned hectares of forest in Turkey’s Datca peninsula (Image: GETTY)

Although it may seem otherwise, this year’s heatwave has not reached its peak yet.

In France, it is expected on Monday, with temperatures likely to break all records.

As the heat “becomes intense between Sunday and next Tuesday”, Météo France said, on Monday “monthly temperature records will be approached or even exceeded at the peak of the episode (…) in the South-West, Centre-West and lower Rhone Valley”.

It added: “This day could also be one of the hottest ever recorded in France.”

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The previous record was an average of 29.4C over the day, reached in August 2003 and July 2019.

Yet, there is no guarantee such temperatures will again be reached as it is difficult, Météo France’s Mathieu Sorel explained, “to draw an analogy between the various heatwaves we have experienced and the one we are about to experience”.

At home, the Met Office issued a rare red warning for many parts of England, which means the extreme weather could lead to “serious illness or danger to life”.

The alert came as “exceptional, perhaps record-breaking, temperatures” are expected early next week.

Spokesman Grahame Madge said: “We’ve just issued a red warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday which is the first such warning ever issued.

“The warning covers an area from London up to Manchester and then up to the Vale of York.

“This is potentially a very serious situation.”

Additional reporting Maria Ortega



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