Europe caught between forest fires and drought

Europe caught between forest fires and drought

A French firefighter battles a forest fire near Belin-Beliet in southwestern France.

Drought continues across much of Europe, while firefighters remain mobilized to fight the blazes ravaging France. While Portugal is also burning, Italy is experiencing a rare drought and the Rhine in Germany is reaching historic levels.

More than 360 firefighters from several European countries are fighting a large fire in southwestern France which has consumed almost 7,400 hectares of pine since July.

These are 147 Polish strazacy, 141 German and Austrian Feuerwehrleute, and 77 Romanian firefighters who have been deployed for more than a week as part of the European Civil Protection Mechanism, which was created in 2001.

Austrian firefighters have been mobilized to fight the fires in southwestern France. There are also Polish, German and Romanian firefighters who have been sent to the scene.

Our mission now is to put out the hot spots, continue the work on the edge and to secure the tracks to avoid a new resumption of the fixed fire, but not yet under control, indicated the lieutenant-colonel of the firefighters of Gironde (South-West department), Laurent Pham.

And a further rise in temperatures is expected next week, according to Mr. Pham, which could complicate the work of firefighters.

Also, 21 Polynesian firefighters and others from Reunion and Mayotte, two French zones located in the Indian Ocean, are expected on site.

This fire resumed on August 9, barely a month after two other fires that had burned in the same area. But it would not be of criminal origin, according to the Bordeaux prosecutor's office, unlike the first fires in mid-July. Judicial information has also been opened for destruction by fire.

The historic drought in Europe is leaving other regions of France dry, with a severe limitation of water consumption for the inhabitants.

Wildlife across Western Europe is having a tough time due to the extreme heat, and the Loire, an iconic river, is experiencing historically low water levels.

Wildfires continue to wreak havoc across Europe with over 660,000 hectares burned since January. This is the case in certain departments of France where the use of drinking water is rationed, under penalty of a fine. Report by Marie-Eve Bédard.

In the Serra da Estrela natural park, in central Portugal, the forest fire which was declared under control last week flared up again, and mobilized more than a thousand on Tuesday firefighters, with around ten aerial means, according to the Portuguese civil protection.

The approximately 1,200 firefighters who are deployed on the ground are supported by 373 vehicles and 12 planes and helicopters, notes the National Civil Protection Authority.

It's quite a fire, with the probability of evolving on new fronts, explained the commander of the Portuguese civil protection, André Fernandes, during a press briefing on Tuesday.< /p>

The fire in the Serra da Estrela region has already consumed more than 15,000 hectares, and July was the hottest month recorded in Portugal for a century.

The Serra da Estrela fire has already injured around 20 people, and 45 people had to be evacuated as a precaution. This fire is the biggest to hit Portugal this summer, and it has already consumed more than 15,000 hectares, including unique areas of forest in this UNESCO-recognized park.

Portugal is experiencing exceptional drought and the hottest July in almost a century.

Nearly 81,000 hectares of forests have already gone up in smoke, which represents the largest area since the deadly 2017 fires that claimed around 100 lives.

Italy is facing its worst drought in 70 years, and the government has decreed in early July the state of emergency in several regions of the north and center of the country.

In the north, Lake Garda has been hit by the most severe drought in 15 years.

We are now 30 centimeters above hydrographic datum, while the average of these last years was 80 or 100 centimeters in this period, explained the director of the company for the promotion of Lake Garda (Garda Unico), Gianluca Ginepro.

The level of Lake Garda, Italy, has reached a trough of 30 centimeters above the hydrographic datum, while the average of recent years and 80 or 100 centimeters at the same period. In 2007, it had reached 9.9 centimeters.

It's a situation to keep under control, but for the moment there is no problem from the point of view of using the lake for activities like sailing and windsurfing, Ginepro said.

We have somewhat lost the possibility of providing water for agriculture, Mr. Ginepro admitted, however.

With an area of ​​367 square kilometers, Lake Garda had reached a level of 9.9 centimeters above the hydrographic datum in the summer of 2007. But the drought affecting Europe is not over yet.

As at the Rhine, it has lost 4 centimeters in 24 hours at the border of Germany and the Netherlands, reaching a depth of almost zero in places.

Since January 1 , approximately 662,776 hectares of forest have been ravaged by fires in the European Union, according to data updated on Sunday from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which compiles comparable statistics. since 2006, in particular thanks to satellite images from the European Copernicus programme.

With information from Agence France-Presse, Le Monde, and Associated&nbs p;Press

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