Europe, from North to South, is experiencing some of the worst forest fires ever. Even Finland is suffering from the largest fires in its history. Although, as usual, most affected countries are in Southern Europe. Currently Turkey, Greece, and Spain are in the middle of fighting the battle against devastating fires. But the fear is that more countries will get affected and worse is yet to come.
Already, the death toll from six straight days of wildfires in Turkey has risen to eight, while in neighboring Greece, firefighters were attempting to contain a blaze that destroyed houses and hospitalized more than a dozen people. Many of those being hospitalized are experiencing serious respiratory problems.
Fueled by global warming, the fires are tearing through these nations’ countryside with greater velocity and intensity than ever before. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned on Monday that Greece is suffering its worst heat wave since 1987. Forecasters announced that temperatures could reach 45 degrees in the coming days. The wildfires are the worst of their kind in at least a decade, with nearly 95,000 hectares (235,000 acres) burned so far this year, compared with an average of 13,516 at the same point in the years between 2008 and 2020. That’s about eight times the historical average.
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The burning has caused some serious economic damage to these nations’ industries destroying infrastructure, homes, businesses, agriculture, and tourism. In Spain, summer vacations are being ruined as bathing spots are being used to refill water bombers used to fight the flames.
The wildfires are also affecting other Mediterranean countries. More than 800 flare-ups were recorded over the weekend in Italy, mainly in the south, the country’s fire brigade said. A second straight day of wildfires in Sicily on Saturday forced people to leave their homes and saw the local Catania airport temporarily shut down.
Overall, aside from being a result of the global warming process, all this heat over a relatively restricted area is creating what scientists call a heat dome over Europe. A heat dome is when high pressure parks itself over an area, acting like a lid on a saucepan, trapping heat. Meteorologists expect the weather will continue into next week making it the most severe since the 1980s.
International cooperation has been stepped up to fight these fires. Support teams from a range of countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Azerbaijan have been deployed to help Turkish firefighters. Planes from Spain are expected to arrive on Tuesday while one from Croatia will join efforts on Monday, an EU official said. Hopefully, all these efforts will enable the countries to get the fires under control. They are running against time as the fires need to be put out before temperatures in Europe keep rising as a result of this constant heat cycle.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Image of wildfires near Patras Greece. Featured Photo Credit: Image by Nicole Lenzen.