Wildfires force Germany, Greece and Spain to evacuate residents | News | DW

Early summer high temperatures and stronger winds reached Germany’s eastern states on Sunday, fanning a wildfire in an area southwest of the capital, Berlin.

The country’s national weather agency said the mercury rose above 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) at some measuring stations in the east after hitting similar temperatures in the west of the country a day earlier.

Residents of about 20 villages were ordered to evacuate as a forest fire, which has been burning since Friday, approached their homes. Others have been told to prepare to leave in the coming hours.

Earlier, a fire department spokesman said the area of ​​the fire had spread to “about 100 to 110 hectares”, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Berlin.

A military helicopter was deployed to assist in the firefighting operation.

Rescue teams have so far managed to prevent the flames from crossing a major road, the B102, which has been closed to traffic.

The town hall of Treuenbrietzen in the state of Brandenburg serves as an emergency shelter for evacuees.

Germany has experienced numerous forest fires in recent days after a period of intense heat and little rain.

However, forecasters said the thunderstorms would likely bring cooler weather from the west by Sunday evening.

A Greek island affected by a fire

Also on Sunday, a forest fire continued to rage in central Euboea, Greece’s second largest island.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire spread on the slopes of a mountainous forest in Gaia.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of the village of Kremastos as a precaution, as the fire came within 800 meters (about 2,600 feet) of some houses.

About 70 firefighters were fighting the blaze on the ground, assisted by nine firefighting planes and four helicopters.

Euboea suffered devastating forest fires last summer that destroyed about a third of its forest cover.

Spanish authorities have fought several forest fires due to dry conditions and record temperatures for June

Meanwhile, Spanish firefighters struggled to contain wildfires that raged for several days following the heatwave that brought record temperatures for June.

Thermometers topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in many Spanish cities this week – temperatures more typically seen in August.

The worst damage occurred in the northwest province of Zamora, where more than 25,000 hectares (61,000 acres) of land was burned, regional authorities said,

The blaze was started by a strike from an electrical storm on Wednesday, although a lack of rain and gusty winds created the conditions for the blaze to grow.

Lower temperatures across Spain

Spanish authorities said temperatures dropped on Sunday morning, giving some respite to 650 rescuers battling burning vegetation.

Supported by water-dropping planes, they were able to establish a perimeter around the fire that broke out in the Sierra de la Culebra de Zamora, while 18 villages were evacuated.

Forest fires were also active in three parts of northeastern Catalonia: in Lleida, Tarragona and in a natural park in Garraf, just south of Barcelona.

Firefighters said they responded to more than 200 different wildfires in Catalonia alone over the past week.

Experts warned that the high temperatures were caused by worrying trends in climate change.

“What we are witnessing today is, unfortunately, a taste of the future,” said Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.

She said summers would likely be warmer if concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continued to rise and push global warming toward 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

mm/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)