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Spain devastated by wildfires amid record heat wave

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Forest fires in Spain have destroyed thousands of hectares of land and forced hundreds of residents to flee their homes amid a punishing heat wave across Europe.

Some of the blazes continue to burn, with firefighters scrambling to put out the blazes that have engulfed more than 74,000 acres. On Friday, the World Meteorological Organization warned that all of Spain was facing “extreme fire risk” due to the heat and drought.

The early heat wave has broken records in Spain, with Valencia airport setting a June record on Friday, recording a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) and surpassing records set in 2017. In Madrid, temperatures increased. at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 Celsius) in what the State Weather Agency said was the first major heat wave in more than four decades.

“What we are witnessing today is unfortunately a taste of the future,” Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization, told The Independent over the weekend as she warned that the first heat waves were driven by climate change.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research funded by the German government, on Twitter called the scenes in Europe “the new normal” and warned that extreme weather will only get worse if global emissions are not reduced.

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The Sierra de la Culebra, a mountain range in Castile and León in northwestern Spain, was one of the most devastated areas, with workers association call the wildfire “a real monster” as it formed a towering orange wall along what was once a verdant landscape.

Some respite came on Sunday as temperatures dropped. On Monday, emergency planes dropped water on rural land in the west of the country to prevent flames from reigniting, while forest fires continued to burn in areas including Navarre and Catalonia, Reuters news agency reported.

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Hundreds of firefighters worked in several regions, including Zamora, in the northwest, and Valencia, in the southeast, to put out the flames.

Officials in Catalonia, in the northeast, said over the weekend that emergency services were struggling to contain more than 30 fires, the Guardian reported.

The heatwave also hit France and a warning was issued in Britain by the Health Security Agency as the country recorded its hottest day of the year. Temperatures in London topped 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) due to what experts said was a blast of hot air from North Africa.

In Germany, more than a dozen towns near Berlin were evacuated as a precaution against an impending wildfire over the weekend, Deutsche Welle reported.

“The hottest time of year is usually between mid-July and mid-August,” meteorologist Tim Staeger told the outlet. “If we are already facing these temperatures now, there will likely be more days like this, or even warmer days, later this year.”

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Sammy Westfall contributed to this report.

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