The fire spread around The local governor’s office said Monday night that 27,000 acres of land in the Gironde department in southwest France has forced 32,000 people to evacuate.
The nearby town of Cazaux recorded 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, according to Météo France, the French national meteorological service.
He said major cities in western France, such as Nantes and Brest, had also set new heat records.
Fires were first reported Monday afternoon in Finistère on the country’s Atlantic coast; Less than eight hours later, the flames burned more than 700 acres of land and caused the evacuation of several villages.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday that more than 70,000 hectares of land in Spain has been ash due to fires this year. “Seventy thousand hectares, to give an idea, almost double the average of the last ten years,” he said.
The country’s Carlos III Institute of Health on Monday estimated that there were a total of more than 510 heatwave-related deaths in the country, based on a statistical calculation of excess deaths.
Hundreds have also died in neighboring Portugal, where sweltering temperatures have exacerbated a severe drought.
Portugal’s Ministry of Health said on Saturday that 659 people, mostly elderly, had died in the previous seven days, Reuters reported.
An elderly couple also died Monday after their vehicle overturned while fleeing forest fires in northern Portugal, the country’s state broadcaster RTP reported.
In total, more than 1,100 people are thought to have died due to the ongoing heatwave in southern Europe.
‘Peak of intensity’
As the heatwave moves across the country, France’s capital city, Paris, is expected to reach 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.
In the UK, where temperatures in Santon Downham in eastern England reached 38.1 degrees on Monday, making it the third hottest day in history, officials have warned that things will get worse.
Tuesday is “expected to be even hotter,” according to Met Office CEO Penelope Endersby.
“We really see a higher probability of temperatures of 40 degrees and above tomorrow,” Endersby told BBC Radio on Monday.
“Probably even above that, the 41 isn’t out-of-card. We even have some 43s in the model but we hope it won’t be that high.”
In France, the heatwave is expected to move away from the western part of the country on Tuesday, instead heading towards the center and eastern parts, including Paris.
Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (KMI/IRM) issued a “code red” weather warning for temperatures in two provinces on Tuesday, predicting temperatures in the west and southwest would reach up to 40 degrees Celsius.
“Such high temperatures will require certain precautions: drink regularly, wear lighter clothing, spend the day in cooler rooms, monitor your health regularly, eat easily digestible food (and smaller portions), doors and windows closed to keep the heat out. “Pets and animals also need extra care,” he warned.
The Joint Research Center stressed that drought is “critical” in much of Europe and that “the winter-spring precipitation gap … is exacerbated by early heat waves in May and June”.
The water supply “could be compromised” in the coming months, according to the report.
Speaking to CNN on Monday, Oxford University Professor Myles Allen warned that such heatwaves would be inevitable if humanity did not reduce carbon emissions soon.
“This is not the new normal because we’re just on a trend towards higher temperatures,” Allen told CNN on Monday.
He said the solution is a sweeping shift in the energy industry. He added that it is unlikely that individual companies will change their business models unilaterally because of concerns about losing competitiveness with competitors.
“There has to be a regulation for the entire industry,” Allen said.
Joseph Ataman, Jimmy Hutcheon, and Xiaofei Xu reported from Paris. Zahid Mahmood and Sana Noor Haq reported from London. CNN’s Renee Bertini, James Frater, and Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this post.
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