LISBON, Portugal: Amidst a heat wave, several parts of Europe have been scorched by wildfires, as firefighters battle blazes in Portugal, Spain, Croatia and southern France.
Portuguese Civil Protection commander Andre Fernandes said several fires have caused the evacuation of more than 600 people, while 120 needed medical treatment, with two people, one civilian and one firefighter suffering serious injuries.
Spain and France, as well as Turkey at the other end of the Mediterranean, have experienced wildfires caused by the ongoing heatwave.
According to the regional emergency service, more than 800 firefighters battled two wildfires in Bordeaux, southwest France, which began Tuesday near the towns of Landiras and La Teste-de-Buch.
Due to hot, dry weather and high winds, several regions in southern France have been placed on fire alerts. Last week, wildfires swept through the Gard region in southeast France.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa stressed that better care of woodlands and abandoned farmland was the key to protecting them from fires.
“In 2017, the country realized that having enough firefighters is essential, but it is not enough. We have to get to the root of the problem. The abandonment of property and its non-management is one of the biggest risk factors for forest fires,” Costa said.
On Tuesday, several cities in southern Spain hit highs of 43 C (109.4 F), as more than 400 people were evacuated because of a wildfire that has consumed 8,600 acres in the west of the country.
Meanwhile, fires also raged along Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast, fueled by strong winds, with the worst fires being reported near the town of Sibenik, as well as near the coastal town of Zadar.
“It is hell, we do not know where to go first,” firefighter Boris Dukic told state HRT television.
In southwestern Turkey, a fire began near the village of Mesudiye close to the Aegean Sea resort of Datca, according to the provincial governor’s office.
Meanwhile, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under sharp criticism for what is called its inadequate response and preparedness, including a lack of modern firefighting planes.