A scorching heat wave that lashed much of the Iberian Peninsula sparked three first-of-its-kind fires in northeastern Spain on Thursday, as Spanish and Portuguese officials raised alert levels in both countries.
The Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transitions announced in a tweet that it had sent “six aerial firefighting assets” to fight three fires in three northeastern regions, Aragon, Rioja and Catalonia, in support of resources deployed by the respective regional governments. .
The most significant fire is from Catalonia, affecting a 41-hectare protected forest area off the coast of the province of Tarragona.
In Spain, as in neighboring Portugal, the risk of fire is even more worrying as the Mediterranean basin has been the scene of devastating fires for several weeks, especially in Greece and Algeria.
In Spain, the fire risk was rated “extreme” for much of the country on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Meteorological Agency (AEMET), which has yet to release its risk forecast for the following days.
In Portugal, fire warnings are at “maximum” between Thursday and Monday in the northern and central regions of the country’s interior, as well as in part of the Algarve (south), Meteo Portugal reported.
These risks are the result of a heat wave that should see the mercury flutter with 40 degrees Celsius until at least Monday over much of the peninsula, with significantly higher peaks in many regions such as the south of Spain.
According to AEMET measurements, the temperature reached 42 degrees Celsius in the province of Ciudad Real (central Spain) on Wednesday.
Catalonia, a very touristic region, has banned camping in the woods and sporting activities in rural areas, as well as certain mechanical agricultural activities at certain times.
historic heat wave
For the first time since 1920, the famous Retiro Park, which is very popular for shady spot seekers in Madrileos, must display more than 40 degrees Celsius for three consecutive days from Friday to Sunday, the spokesman said. , Feather Twitter.
These temperatures, well above seasonal norms, are due to the arrival of very warm air masses from North Africa, combined with a strong solar exposure, the two meteorological agencies explained.
Del Campo told AFP that between 2011 and 2020, Spain recorded twice as many heat waves as in each of the previous three decades.
Scientists consider recurrent heat waves to be a clear product of global warming and believe that these heat waves are bound to multiply, lengthen and intensify.
“In Spain, we are not immune from this danger,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned about the fires on Wednesday, adding that the country was entering “a risk zone” with the arrival of this heat wave. had gone.
He also called on his compatriots to “be very careful”.
His Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Costa, echoed him on Thursday afternoon. “We already know that the next few days will be difficult,” he warned in press statements from the Civil Defense Headquarters, calling on the Portuguese to remain vigilant and avoid “risky behaviour”.
“We are facing an enduring challenge that is the result of climate change,” he said.
Portugal experienced a deadly fire in 2017 that claimed over a hundred victims.
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