Wildfires raged throughout Italy, and 14 towns, including Rome, Milan, and Florence, were set to be placed on the country’s highest heatwave warning on Thursday, up from nine on Wednesday.
ATHENS/LONDON, July 20 (Trouve 360 News) – On Wednesday, emergency services fought flames throughout southern Europe amid major evacuations, as warnings were issued in London after Britain’s warmest day that the fight against climate change needed to be ramped up.
A wildfire fueled by gale-force winds raged in the highlands north of Athens, forcing hundreds to flee, including hospital patients, while gas tanks trapped in a forest fire near the Tuscan town of Lucca burst in central Italy.
A terrible heatwave descended on southern Europe this week, as part of a recent worldwide trend of increasing temperatures, mainly ascribed by scientists and climatologists to human activity, that is expected to suffocate most of China until late August.
It is also projected to cause record electricity use in Central American states, adding to the greenhouse gas emissions guaranteed by governments across the globe, as homes and businesses fire up air conditioners to battle high temperatures forecast to linger into next week.
While the record heat seen in areas of the Mediterranean last week has subsided, temperatures in Portugal, Spain, and Italy have began to rise again.
Armando Silva, the Civil Protection commander for Portugal’s northern region, said rising temperatures and strong winds would make it more difficult to fight the country’s largest wildfire, which has burned 10,000-12,000 hectares (38-46 square miles) in and around the municipality of Murça since Sunday.
Higher temperatures were anticipated in Spain, where emergency services were battling fires in five locations, according to the national meteorological office AEMET.
Temperatures in the north and center of the country were anticipated to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) this week, according to forecasters.
That threshold was broken for the first time in Britain on Tuesday, breaking the country’s previous temperature record by 1.6 degrees Celsius.
Stephen Belcher, Chief of Science and Technology at the Met Office in the United Kingdom, said that unless greenhouse gas emissions are decreased, the UK may face such heatwaves every three years.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London and a member of the opposition Labour Party, made a similar warning.
“The sad fact is that this is likely to be the future for London and the UK if we do not take bold action now on the climate catastrophe,” he warned.
The “amazing, unparalleled” milestone set on Tuesday acted as a “reminder… of the significance of addressing climate change,” according to Treasury Minister Simon Clarke.
British engineers hurried on Wednesday to repair railway rails that had crumbled in the heat after firemen, who had their busiest day in London since World War II on Tuesday, fought through the night to put out flames.
Major flames raged to the south on the European continent.
Thick clouds of smoke obscured the sky above Mount Penteli, 27 kilometers (16 miles) north of Athens, as almost 500 firemen, 120 fire engines, and 15 water-carrying aircraft attempted to put out a wildfire that started on Tuesday and continued to burn on many fronts.
Authorities said that nine communities had been evacuated. One hospital and the National Observatory of Athens were also evacuated, and police assisted in the evacuation of at least 600 individuals from fire-ravaged regions.
“The fire frequently changed course during the night due to the ferocity and speed of the winds,” stated Fire Department spokeswoman Yiannis Artopios in a broadcast statement.
Winds were expected to be strong until Wednesday afternoon.
Wildfires burned around 300,000 acres (almost 470 square miles) of woodland and bushland in various areas of Greece last year, during the country’s worst heatwave in 30 years.
In Italy, firefighters fought a blaze near the town of Lucca for the third day, destroying 560 hectares (2.15 square miles) of woodland, according to officials.
The fires raced through the night, reaching several settlements and caused some liquefied gas tanks to burst, according to the region’s governor, Eugenio Giani, who posted on Twitter. “Because of the wind, several fronts have intensified,” he continued.
Residents in the northeastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region were encouraged to remain inside due to heavy smoke from a wildfire that began on Tuesday in the Carso region bordering Croatia and Slovenia.
It caused state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri (FCT.MI) to shut its Monfalcone factory, which employs 3,000 people.
In France, where firefighters in the southern Gironde area have been fighting massive forest fires since July 12, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said more money was required to combat similar risks.
“We are confronted with a rather extraordinary scenario,” he remarked, alluding to the destruction in Brittany and southern France.
President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to visit the Gironde area on Wednesday, as local officials reported that improving weather conditions as France’s heatwave moved east were assisting in the struggle to control the fires.