The European Union is on track for a record wildfire season, the bloc’s fire monitoring service warned.
Successive heat waves — part of a warming trend driven by climate change — and persistent lack of rainfall have turned much of Europe into a tinderbox this summer, allowing fires to spread with ease.
Flames have ravaged nearly 660,000 hectares of EU land — an area more than twice the size of Luxembourg — since the beginning of 2022, according to the latest update from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).
In 2017, the bloc’s worst wildfire year to date, about 420,000 hectares had been burnt by mid-August before a devastating October pushed it up to 988,087 hectares for the whole year. With the fire season far from over, the EFFIS warned that this year could set a new record.
This year so far is “just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesús San-Miguel told Agence France-Presse on Sunday. “The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season.”
Spain, Romania and Portugal are the worst affected EU members. France has also been hit hard, with more than 60,000 hectares burnt as of this week, far surpassing the country’s previous record of 43,600 hectares for the entire year of 2019.
Photo – An helicopter pours water into the flames of a forest fire in Mijas, Malaga, southern Spain. EPA-EFE/DANIEL PEREZ
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