Europe on track for new wildfire record this year: EU monitor – POLITICO

The European Union is on track for a record wildfire season, the bloc’s fire service warned.

Successive heatwaves — part of a warming trend driven by climate change — and continued lack of rain have turned much of Europe into a tinderbox this summer, allowing fires to easily spread.

According to the latest update to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), flames have destroyed nearly 660,000 hectares of EU land since early 2022 – an area more than twice the size of Luxembourg.

In 2017, the bloc’s worst wildfire year to date, about 420,000 acres had been burned by mid-August before a devastating October brought it to 988,087 acres for the year. With fire season far from over, EFFIS warned that a new record could be set this year.

This year so far has been “just under 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 of Europe this year and the general 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 Member States. France has also been hit hard, with more than 60,000 hectares burned as of this week, far exceeding the country’s previous record of 43,600 hectares for the whole of 2019.

French President Emmanuel Macron will Meet firefighters, farmers, EU emergency responders and officials to discuss future wildfire prevention and control strategies once the fires are extinguished, according to the president’s team quoted in Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

Firefighters in France managed to stop the spread of a massive fire that destroyed 6,000 hectares of pine forest in the southwestern region of Gironde within 24 hours this weekend. Hundreds of firefighters from other EU countries had rushed to France over the past week to help contain the blaze.

But as Europe gets warmer, more and more wildfires are also spreading further north. San-Miguel of the EFFIS said there has been a trend since 2010 towards more fires in central and northern Europe.

As this week’s heat wave subsides and the rain brings some relief, EFFIS said on Sunday that the wildfire situation showed some improvement, although the risk remains high for the Iberian Peninsula and from eastern France via Belgium to Germany.

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