Factbox-Europe sees another year of droughts and wildfires

(Reuters) – Europe is battling the effects of scorching temperatures reaching worrying levels globally, with July being the hottest month recorded on both land and sea.

Last year, heatwaves resulted in over 61,600 heat-related fatalities across 35 European countries and triggered devastating wildfires. This year, the temperatures could exceed Europe’s current record of 48.8 degrees Celsius, recorded in Sicily in August 2021.

Below is a list of the most recent blazes and heat-related warnings issued in Europe.



A bushfire near the coastal town of Sibenik quickly spread on July 13, fuelled by strong southerly winds. Another fire started on July 25 near the popular tourist city Dubrovnik. The situation was rapidly brought under control.


A forest fire erupted on August 6 in the north of the city of Limassol and quickly spread through the semi-mountainous region, prompting the precautionary evacuation of three communities. By morning the fires had largely been contained, but interchanging winds caused intermittent flare-ups.


Small-scale blazes have been recorded across the country, including regions like Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Grand Est, Bouches-Du-Rhone and Corsica island.

Mid-April the French geological service BRGM said that very low groundwater levels have put France on course for a worse summer drought than last year, mainly in the southern part of the country.


Fires burning since mid-July on the island of Rhodes forced the evacuation of some 20,000 as an inferno reached coastal resorts on the island’s southeast. A wildfire also forced evacuations from the island of Corfu in the night of July 25-26.

In the capital city of Athens, a wildfire declared on July 17 spread through forests, about 30 km (18 miles) north. The fire front extended for more than 8 km (5 miles), officials said. Firefighters were able to control other fires in the southeast and west of Athens, but those areas were still at risk.


The health ministry on July 18 issued red weather alerts for 20 of the country’s 27 main cities, with expectations of the number rising to 23 by July 19. The worker at Italian air force’s weather service, Carlo Spanu, said that the country could see temperatures exceeding 47 degrees Celsius. Rome registered a new record high temperature of 41.8 Celsius, the weather service of the local Lazio region reported.


A wildfire started on Aug 5 in the municipality of Odemira, in the Alentejo region, but has since spread south towards the Algarve — one of Portugal’s top tourist destinations. The flames, which have destroyed around 7,000 hectares of land, forced the evacuation of around 1,400 people.

Portugal’s authorities declared some 120 municipalities accross Portugal at maximum risk of wildfires due to the scorching heat.


Fires across vast forest wilderness have lead to emergency declarations in seven regions, according to Russia’s forestry service. The worst-hit areas are the vast Yakutia region, with 111 fires covering 1,800 sq km, followed by the Khabarovsk, Amur and Krasnoyarsk regions.

Wildfires have also been scorching Siberian forests for a little over a month, fueled by intense heat and lightning storms. Authorities in the Russian Far East declared a state of emergency on July 3.

In Urals region’s Shaidurikha village, near Yekaterinburg, wildfires spread on July 12 and caused significant damage. One woman died, two people were hospitalised with burns and 41 houses were burned down.


Firefighters were battling an uncontrollable wildfire that started on July 15 on the island of La Palma which led to the evacuation of at least 4,000 people. The fire was brought under control by the end of the month.

Spain has endured a prolonged period of drought, with the first four months of 2023 being the driest on record.


Swiss police on July 17 issued evacuation orders for several mountain villages due to the spread of a fire on the forested flank of a mountain in Bitsch in the Valais canton near the Italian border. More than 200 people were forced to evacuate. It could take days or weeks to fully put out the fire, which spread to 100 hectares of forest, a firelighter said.


Wildfires started burning in Turkey’s southeastern Hatay and Mersin provinces, as well as Canakkale province in the northwest since July 16, the Turkish General Directorate of Forestry said on its Twitter account.

(Reporting and compiling by Dina Kartit and Gaëlle Sheehan, edited by Piotr Lipiński and William Maclean)