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HomeGlobal NewsGreece Battles Wildfires as Heat Builds Across Mediterranean

Greece Battles Wildfires as Heat Builds Across Mediterranean

(Bloomberg) — Greek firefighters are battling more blazes as searing heat bakes southern Europe from Spain to Romania.

Last night a fire in Acharnes, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Athens, engulfed factories before being largely contained. Since early June, Greece has been hit by hundreds of wildfires, fanned by extreme heat and strong winds. 

Half of Greece is on high or very high wildfire alert on Wednesday, with parts of the mainland forecast to reach 43C (109F) in the coming week. Under a European Union initiative, Greece has also dispatched four planes to help fight fires in Albania. There are dozens of blazes in Romania, including one that threatens a forest of 120-year-old pine trees.

Wildfires have long been a risk across the Mediterranean, but global warming is turbo-charging the threat they pose. Climate change is putting 2024 on track to be the hottest year on record, with the death toll from extreme weather events climbing from India and Saudi Arabia to the US and Japan.

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, large parts of Sicily will also face severe wildfire risk this weekend as temperatures soar toward 40C in southern Italy. Heat warnings are in place for many parts of Spain, especially in the southern interior, according to forecaster AEMET.

Hotter-than-normal conditions are expected across Europe in the next two weeks, according to Weather Services International, with temperatures in central regions especially high relative to the 30-year norm.

In Switzerland, where torrential rain triggered deadly floods and landslides in recent weeks, minimum temperatures in some places around Lake Geneva exceeded 22C last night. In Zurich, the mean temperature is forecast to rise as high as 24C on July 16, 5 degrees above the 30-year norm.

–With assistance from Irina Vilcu and Alberto Brambilla.

(Updates with EU sending planes to fight fires in Albania in third paragraph)

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