Forest fires burn, farmers struggle as another heatwave bakes Western Europe

  • A “monster” fire consumes nearly 7,000 hectares in France
  • ESA chief calls for action to tackle climate change
  • Swiss army airlifts water to cows in mountain pastures
  • Gig economy workers denounce labor rights as temperatures soar

HOSTENS, France, Aug 11 (Reuters) – European nations sent fire crews to help France tackle a “monster” wildfire on Thursday, while wildfires also raged in Spain and Portugal and the head of the European Space Agency has called for immediate action to combat climate change.

More than 1,000 firefighters, supported by water bomber planes, battled for a third day a blaze that forced thousands from their homes and burned thousands of hectares of forest in southwestern Gironde. Read more

With a dangerous cocktail of scorching temperatures, powder keg conditions and wind fanning the flames, emergency services struggled to bring the blaze under control.

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“He’s an ogre, a monster,” said Grégory Allione of the FNSPF.

Heat waves, flooding and collapsing glaciers in recent weeks have heightened concerns about climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events across the world.

European Space Agency chief Josef Aschbacher said rising land temperatures and shrinking rivers measured from space left no doubt about the consequences of climate change on agriculture and other industries. Read more

ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 series of satellites have measured “extreme” earth surface temperatures of over 45°C (113°F) in Britain, 50°C in France and 60°C in Spain in recent weeks.

“It’s pretty bad. We’ve seen extremes that have never been seen before,” Aschbacher told Reuters.

In Romania, where record high temperatures and drought have drained rivers of water, Greenpeace activists demonstrated on the parched banks of the Danube to draw attention to global warming and urge the government to cut emissions. Read more


With successive heat waves hitting Europe this summer, searing temperatures and unprecedented droughts, renewed attention has been given to the risks of climate change to agriculture, industry and livelihoods.

A severe drought is expected to reduce the European Union’s maize harvest by 15% to its lowest level in 15 years, just as Europeans face higher food prices due to below-average grain exports. normal from Russia and Ukraine.

Swiss army helicopters have been mobilized to ferry water to parched cows, pigs and goats sweltering in the scorching sun in the country’s alpine meadows. Read more

In France, which is suffering from its harshest drought on record, trucks are delivering water to dozens of villages where taps have gone dry, nuclear power plants have been granted exemptions to continue pumping hot water discharged into the river, and farmers warn that a lack of fodder could lead to milk shortages.

In Germany, low rainfall this summer has drained water levels from the Rhine, the country’s commercial artery, hampering shipping and increasing freight costs. Read more

However, as Europe faces another heat wave, one group of workers have no choice but to sweat: the gig economy food delivery guys who often fall through the cracks of labor regulations.

After the mayor of Palermo, on the island of Sicily, in July ordered horses transporting tourists to receive at least 10 liters of water a day, bicycle courier Gaetano Russo filed a complaint demanding similar treatment.

“Am I worth less than a horse,” Russo said in a statement from the Nidil CDIL union. Read more


The UK Met Office issued a four-day “extreme heat” warning for parts of England and Wales on Thursday. Read more

In Portugal, more than 1,500 firefighters spent a sixth day fighting a wildfire in the central region of Covilha that burned 10,500 hectares (40 square miles), including parts of Serra da Estrela National Park.

In Spain, electrical storms sparked new forest fires and hundreds of people were evacuated from the path of a fire in the province of Caceres.

Macron’s office said additional firefighting planes were arriving from Greece and Sweden, while Germany, Austria, Romania and Poland were all deploying firefighters to help fight wildfires. in France.

“European solidarity at work!” Macron tweeted.

Firefighters said they managed to save the village of Belin-Beliet, which emptied out after police told residents to evacuate as the flames approached. But the fire reached the outskirts, leaving behind charred houses and crumbling tractors.

“We were lucky. Our houses were saved. But you see the disaster there. Some houses could not be saved,” said resident Gaetan, pointing to burnt houses.

The Gironde was affected by major forest fires in July.

“The neighborhood is totally disfigured. We are heartbroken, we are exhausted,” Jean-Louis Dartiailh, a local mayor, told Radio Classique. “(This fire) is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Richard Lough; Editing by Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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