The situation is clearly improving on Thursday on the fire front both in France and in Portugal and Spain, where a large fire is about to be controlled in the northeast. In France, the two fires which have destroyed 20,800 hectares of forest in Gironde (south-west) for 10 days and led to the evacuation of more than 36,000 people did not progress overnight, the firefighters still dealing with a few resumptions of fire , local authorities said Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, the approximately 2,000 firefighters engaged had succeeded in preventing the progression of the fires thanks to more favorable weather, with lower temperatures and more humid air. The prefecture had nevertheless warned that the nearly 36,750 evacuees could not yet return to their homes.
To read : A summer in hell. From the Gironde to Provence, France is on fire
In Spain, the evolution of the Ateca fire in Aragon (northeast) “has been positive in recent hours”, said the regional government on Twitter. This fire, which broke out on Monday, covers an area of 14,000 hectares and led to the evacuation of 1,700 people. “The return of the inhabitants to the evacuated villages is getting closer and closer, but we have to be careful,” said regional president Javier Lambán.
The section of the A2 motorway, linking Madrid to Barcelona, which had to be cut because of the flames, was reopened to traffic on Thursday morning, according to the Aragonese authorities. The fire in the province of Zamora (northwest), which resulted in the death of a firefighter and a shepherd on Sunday and Monday, was controlled and remained “quiet and without flames”, indicated the region of Castilla -and-Leon.
The Iberian Peninsula has been swept in recent days by a wave of devastating fires, favored by the heat wave that lasted from July 9 to 18. This heat wave could be the most extreme ever recorded in Spain, according to provisional data from the Spanish Meteorological Agency (Aemet).
Since the beginning of the year, nearly 70,000 hectares have been reduced to ashes in the country, “practically double the average of the last ten years” at the same period, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. Portugal, where more than 57,000 hectares have gone up in smoke since the start of the year, also experienced a lull on Thursday.
“We have passed the most critical phase,” Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro told public television RTP. “Everything seems to indicate an improvement in the coming days,” he added.
According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which measures them differently from satellite observations, 2022 has already just become the worst year since the start of the statistical series in 2000, with 194,704 hectares charred by 319 fires.
After a short respite in temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday, Spain is expected to see the mercury rise again on Thursday, while much of the territory remains on alert, according to Aemet.