Wednesday, 13 November, 2019

Europe heat wave sparks massive in Spain, record temperatures in France

A pharmacy sign displays a temperature of 42c in Reggio Emilia near Bologna northern Italy A pharmacy sign displays a temperature of 42c in Reggio Emilia near Bologna northern Italy
Patty Aguilar | 28 June, 2019, 13:39

A Spanish military unit with 120 specialists joined local firefighters who had worked overnight to control the blaze that sent thick plumes of smoke over hard, hilly terrain near the Ebro River.

"The difficulties are such that we can't talk about a fire that is under control or in the extinction phase, but rather that we are at a moment when the blaze is getting bigger".

The heatwave that has engulfed Western Europe kindled the year's first serious wildfire in the mountainous region of Tarragona district of Spain, endangering a nuclear power station and forcing people to evacuate the area.

Officials say cooler overnight temperatures allowed crews to slow the fire's advance, but authorities say it is the region's worst fire in two decades and 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) are at risk.

Buch said it might have been caused by "an accumulation of manure in a farm that generated enough heat to explode and generate sparks".

Miquel Buch, the head of the regional interior department, said that recent high temperatures likely led to the highly flammable manure combusting, which started the fire.

"It's complicated. We won't get it stabilized today", regional firefighting chief Manuel Pardo told Spanish public television. Spanish TV outlets showed the remains of incinerated sheep and horses from a farm caught in the path of the flames.

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Authorities extended restrictions on vehicles, already imposed in Paris and Lyon, to Marseille and Strasbourg in an effort to curb air pollution.

Temperatures climbed toward 44 C in parts of northern Spain and southern France, driving many people to seek relief in the sea, rivers, lakes, fountains and swimming pools.

In southern France, four administrative districts were placed on red alert - a warning for a risky heat wave.

This heatwave was unprecedented and exceptional in its intensity, Ms Buzyn told a news conference.

Authorities have issued heat warnings throughout the Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Spain, where a wildfire has burned through 10,000 acres in the Spanish region of Catalonia.

Grid operator RTE said French electricity demand on Thursday was close to a summer record seen two years ago, as people turned on fans and coolers to full blast for relief from the scorching temperatures. In Berlin, it was 21 C, down from around 37 C on Wednesday.

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