Wildfire Risk Climbs for Spain as Heat Wave Moves to Iberia

The focus of Europe’s heat is switching to Spain, with a high risk of wildfires in southern parts of the Iberian peninsula.

(Bloomberg) — The focus of Europe’s heat is switching to Spain, with a high risk of wildfires in southern parts of the Iberian peninsula.

Southern Spain is expected to exceed 40C (104F) on Monday, with regions around Cordoba under alert for hot weather and the warnings spreading to the south coast on Tuesday. The wildfire risk in those areas is also at the maximum level, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. 

Wildfires have largely been brought under control across the Mediterranean, but only after an area almost the size of Greater London was burnt since July 15, directly affecting over 120,000 people. While Greek firefighters contained a blaze on the island of Chios, another fire has broken out on heavily wooded Thasos in the northern Aegean Sea.

The world is on track for its hottest ever month in July, with fires, flooding and extreme temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere from the US to China. Scientists say that would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change, but efforts to curb the use of fossil fuels fall well short of what’s required to address a rapidly warming planet.

There were more than 100 wildfires in Greece over the weekend, but all of those have been brought under control. Fire risk will drop one level to high on Tuesday, with seven regions impacted, including Athens and the surrounding Attica area.

Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Vasilis Kikilias told newspaper To Vima tis Kyriakis on Sunday that Greece would be strengthening its firefighting capacity.

“The climate crisis has dramatically changed the models for the development of a fire under difficult or extreme conditions,” the minister said. “Our first priority is the recruitment of more than 500 new firefighters.” 

Temperatures in Italy and Greece are expected to climb back above 40C by Wednesday.

That’s a sharp contrast with the cooler weather that’s dominating northern Europe. Temperatures in the UK, France and Nordic countries will remain below seasonal averages for the coming 10 days.

Stockholm will peak at 18C today, more than 4C below the norm, according to forecaster Maxar Technologies Inc.

(Updates with spreading heat in second paragraph, fire on Thasos in third)

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