Unseasonal heat sparks dozens of wildfires in Spain

Climate fears rise after temperatures hit 30°C in some parts of Europe

A fireman fights a blaze in Sopela, Spain. Reuters
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Dozens of wildfires raged in northern Spain on Friday after unusually high temperatures hit 30°C in some areas a day earlier, adding to mounting concerns about changing weather patterns in Europe.

In the Basque Country, Asturias and Cantabria, about 40 blazes were reported, regional emergency services said.

Spain's national weather agency Aemet predicted on Thursday that this could be the hottest October on record.

It added that every day of the month, except October 1, had been warmer than the normal temperature experienced at this time of year.

Basque weather agency Euskalmet on Thursday raised the wildfire risk in the region to moderate and high, depending on the area.

“We have an orange alert today, Saturday and Sunday are also expected to have an orange alert for forest fires,” fireman Jon Sanchez said as he took a break from battling a blaze in Sopela, in the Basque province of Biscay.

Several brutal heatwaves with temperatures well above 40°C hit southern Europe over the summer, part of a global pattern of rising temperatures widely attributed by scientists and climatologists to human activity.

Government figures indicate this year has been the worst year for wildfires in Spain, with 260,000 hectares destroyed.

Throughout Europe, wildfires have burnt 775,941 hectares this year, the second-largest area on record, data from the European Union's Joint Research Centre showed.

Updated: October 28, 2022, 6:16 PM