Several fires and sometimes mega-fires have already broken out in different countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. What about the ongoing fires in Europe? The card answer.
Heat waves and fires are hitting Mediterranean countries in July 2023. Drought, high or even extreme temperatures and gusts of wind favor the start of fires and then the spread of flames. The hectares burned already number in the hundreds and sometimes in the thousands in certain regions.
Greece has been plagued by several fires, including mega-fires since mid-July and while the situation seems to be improving in places, some hotspots continue to burn while others appear. Other countries in the Mediterranean region have also been in the grip of the flames or are still so, such as Italy and more particularly Sicily, Algeria and even French territory with the fires observed in Corsica.
The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), a service linked to European Copernicus observation, makes it possible to locate active fires in the world in real time as well as hot spots. Their map accessible above (activate the "Fire danger forecast" filter in the menu on the left then click on the first icon of the menu on the left to better see the map) makes it possible to identify the regions in prey or vulnerable to the risks of fire.
The country has been burning since July 17. The remote island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea and neighboring Turkey, that of Corfu, in the northwest of the country, and that of Euboea, east of Athens, were particularly affected. But an area north of Athens and the Peloponnese peninsula were also caught in the flames. On the peninsula, Eubo and Corfu the fires appear to have been brought under control. Still, on the islands as on the mainland, the return of the wind announced by the weather forecasts raise fears of renewed fires, despite the drop in extreme temperatures. "In the last three days, 177 forest fires have broken out, including 61 just yesterday when 90 fronts were developing," Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinaki said on July 27, noting an improvement in the situation. .
Three people lost their lives because of the fires: two pilots of a Canadair which crashed while fighting against the flames on the island of Eubé and a man found charred dead on the same island.
Numerous and violent fires have ravaged Sicily and part of southern Italy since July 23. While it was over 47 degrees in some cities on the island, such as Catania, the day after the fires started, temperatures remained very high and the sirocco, a very hot wind coming from the Sahara, blew on the island for two days further fanning the flames. The wind has since died down, but the fires were still going on Wednesday, July 26. The president of the Sicilian region, Renato Schifani, has asked the government to place the island in a state of emergency. Three people have already lost their lives in the fires, a couple in their 70s and an 88-year-old woman found near Palermo. In addition to Sicily, the regions of Puglia and Abruzzo in the south-east of the Italian boot have also been victims of fires.
Portugal rarely escapes fires and has seen many hectares burnt every summer for the past few years. This time a fire broke out in Cascais, in a mountainous region near Lisbon. Firefighters are mobilized to contain, control and extinguish the fire which has already spread over 150 km². The wind blowing over the country complicates the fight against the fire. Eight firefighters were slightly injured and hospitalized, the hardest hit man appears to be suffering from an eye problem.
In Croatia, the very touristic city of Dubrovnik is threatened by a major forest fire which broke out about twelve kilometers from the historic city, on the evening of July 24. The flames were fanned by strong winds during the day on Tuesday July 25 and firefighters have since been at work to put out the flames.
Large fires have broken out in Algeria, in the northeast of the country since July 23. On Wednesday, July 26, firefighters managed to control and extinguish the flames from 11 different fire sources. The fight continues against the most persistent flames to avoid a recovery. The fires still caused many victims, including 34 deaths in the space of three days.
France was not spared by the flames, but the fires were quickly brought under control. In Corsica, a fire broke out on the evening of July 25 in the north of the island. The fire was eventually brought under control by firefighters after burning 200 hectares. Several small outbreaks of fire were observed, but controlled by firefighters from Var, Bouches-du-Rhône and other departments around the Mediterranean.
However, France remains vulnerable to fires and every day the risks of a fire starting are assessed by the forest weather forecast. The first red alert, the highest level of vigilance, was triggered in the Bouches-du-Rhône on July 25, while orange alerts are activated daily in the south, but also in other regions of France.