Hot dry weather leads to numerous wildfires in Europe

Weather forecast, Europe, for July 18, 2022
Weather forecast, Europe, for July 18, 2022. WeatherOnlne. For reference, 40C is 104F, and 35C is 95F.

As Western Europe enters its second heat wave in the last 30 days the maximum temperatures are predicted to set records. Residents in the United Kingdom could experience conditions none of them have ever seen as the temperature rises to 104F degrees (40C) or more, prompting officials to issue the first ever red “extreme heat” warning for Monday and Tuesday.

Farther south in Europe, in southwest France on Saturday there were temperature peaks of close to 108F (42C), as the city of Biarritz broke a maximum temperature record. Nearly three-quarters of the country’s population, 45 million people, were affected by red or orange heat alerts in what is the earliest heat wave ever recorded in France.

The hot, dry weather has resulted in numerous wildfires in Britain, Spain, Portugal, and France over the last several days, bringing an earlier than usual start of the fire season. Firefighters in London, yes, London, have dealt with more than 800 vegetation fires since the start of last month to July 12.

wildfire in the Bordeaux region of southwest France
Firefighters work on a wildfire in the Bordeaux region of southwest France. AP.

Two blazes near the coastal town of Arcachon in France’s southwest Gironde region have burned more than 24,000 acres since Tuesday. About 3,000 firefighters assisted by firefighting aircraft are battling the blazes in southern France.

On Friday a pilot was killed while working on a fire in Northeast Portugal when an Air Tractor AT-802AF Fire Boss went down near the town of Torre de Moncorvo after scooping water on the Douro river.

Spain is also working on several large fires that have burned tens of thousands of acres. In southern Andalusia, 3,000 people were evacuated after a fire started near the village of Mijas in the province of Malaga. Around 200 firefighters supported by 18 aircraft are assigned to the incident.

European heat wave
BBC weather forecaster Ben Rich.

BBC weather forecaster Ben Rich explained that the current heat wave is caused by the jet stream shifting north and a portion of it breaking off to form a low pressure area west of Portugal, a cutoff low, with south winds pumping heat north into Western Europe including Spain, France and the UK.

Combined drought indicator Europe
Combined drought indicator last 10 days in June, 2022. European Commission’s Drought Observatory..

Much of Western Europe and the southern UK are in drought ranging from warning to alert levels, according to the European Commission’s Drought Observatory. The dry soils allow more surface heating and the result is record-setting temperatures and lower than average moisture in the vegetation, establishing conditions that are conducive to large wildfires with high resistance to control.

The video below is a summary of current wildfires in Western Europe.

Air tanker crash in Portugal kills pilot

AT-802
File photo. AT-802. Titan Aerial Firefighting photo.

This article was first published on Fire Aviation.

A pilot died Friday in the crash of an air tanker in Northeast Portugal.

In a message on his official Twitter account, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said, “It was with great dismay that I became aware of the death of the pilot who operated an aircraft that crashed this afternoon….I send my deepest condolences to family and friends.”

The Air Tractor AT-802AF Fire Boss went down near the town of Torre de Moncorvo after scooping water on the Douro river. The pilot was the only person on board the single engine air tanker that had departed from Viseu-Gonçalves Lobato Airport (VSE/LPVZ). Photos show that the aircraft was severely damaged. Joao Sousa, mayor of the town of Foz Coa where the incident took place, told Lusa news agency the pilot was pronounced dead at the scene.

The aircraft was operated by Titan Aerial Firefighting which has offices in Spain. The company announced on Saturday that the pilot was André Serra, from Agromontiar.

“On behalf of the whole company, friends and colleagues say goodbye to you,” they wrote. “We offer our deepest condolences to the relatives of André, a great professional and better person who has left us too soon. Rest in peace.”

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Mr. Serra.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Gerald.

Pilot killed in crash of Portuguese air tanker

The accident occurred in Spain on a wildfire that burned across the border

August 8, 2020 | 1:07 p.m. MDT

CL-215 crash map
Map showing the general area of the crash of a CL-215 (EC-HET). The icons represent heat detected by satellites at 8:10 a.m. MDT (US) August 8, 2020.

(This article first appeared at FireAviation.com)

A Portuguese water-scooping air tanker crashed in Spain on August 8 while battling a wildfire that started near Lindoso, Portugal and burned across the international border. The pilot, Jorge Jardim, 65, was killed and the Spanish co-pilot was seriously injured.

Below are excerpts from an article at the Portugal Resident August 8, 2020:

The tragedy happened mid-morning as the plane was taking part in aerial attacks on a fire in the Peneda-Gerês national park at Lindoso, Ponte da Barca.

The downed plane had just finished a ‘scooping’ (collection of roughly 5000 litres of water) and was preparing to drop the load in an arc at the head of the fire.

By the time rescue workers got to the wreckage, both victims were in cardio-respiratory arrest. SAV (advanced life-support) technicians managed to ‘bring back’ the Spanish co-pilot, but were unable to resuscitate the 65-year-old pilot.

Eduardo Cabrita, minister for Interior Administration, issued a note of regret Monday afternoon, presenting his “heartfelt condolences” to the family, friends and colleagues of pilot Jorge Jardim who made up part of the special aerial fire combat force run by the Portuguese branch of the international company Babcock.

Mr Cabrita also wished for the full recovery of the co-pilot, saying “in this tragic moment I would like to send a word of solidarity to all those who give such selfless service to the country in the combat of fires”.

He also thanked Spanish authorities for their help in the difficult recovery operation.

The aircraft was a Canadair CL-215 (EC-HET) manufactured in 1975.

At the time of the accident, seven Portuguese and four Spanish aircraft were working on the fire.

The investigation will be conducted by Spanish authorities since it occurred on the Spanish side of the border.

YouTube has aerial footage of the crash site apparently filmed shortly after the incident which shows a small vegetation fire spreading uphill away from the wreckage. There are also photos on Twitter.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Mr. Jardim and hope for a full recovery of the co-pilot.

Fire in Southern Portugal burns 52,000 acres

The fire is burning near Monchique in the southern Algarve region

Portugal Monchique fire wildfire
The map shows heat in Southern Portugal detected by a satellite August 8, 2018. Other areas that burned in previous days have cooled and were not seen by the satellite’s sensors. Click to enlarge.

A fire that started August 3 has burned 52, 000 acres (21,000 hectares) in the southern Algarve region of Portugal.

Below is an excerpt from an article at Geo.tv dated August 9, 2018:


“MONCHIQUE: Wildfires scorched across Portugal’s southern Algarve region on Wednesday, threatening more villages as the country’s prime minister warned the blaze could burn for days before being brought under control.

“Over 1,400 firefighters and soldiers were battling the blaze around the mountain spa town of Monchique in one of Europe’s top tourist destinations.

“They were backed up by 13 water-dropping aircraft that scooped water from the sea at nearby beach resorts to battle the flames which were scorching a path towards more villages.

“Sweltering temperatures and strong winds kindled blazes that have whipped across the region as the Europe-wide heatwave sent the mercury above 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in some areas of Portugal at the weekend.”

Fire causes evacuations near Monchique, Portugal

At least two villages have been evacuated

Above: the map shows the approximate location of the burned area northwest of Monchique, Portugal, August 5, 2018.

A wildfire in Portugal’s southern region of Algarve is causing evacuations in the northern portion of the region northwest of Monchique which is about a half hour drive from the tourist facilities on the coast.

Similar to the heat that is complicating efforts of firefighters in California, temperatures have been close to all time records. Some locations are experiencing 46C (115F).

The fire near Monchique has burned approximately 1,000 Ha (2,470 acres). It is being fought by by 800 firefighters, 130 soldiers, and  12 aircraft. Last year wildfires in Portugal killed 114 people in the country’s worst such tragedy on record. Authorities pulled the trigger much more quickly this time to evacuate at least two communities near Monchique.

In the video below helicopters use a swimming pool to refill their water buckets.

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Short documentary about the disastrous wildfires in Portugal

Above:  Screenshot from the documentary.

Euronews produced this 10-minute documentary about the deadly wildfires that occurred this year in Portugal. The 360 video is very interesting and worth seeing but I could not get it to work properly using the Chrome web browser, however it displayed fine in Firefox.

If the video does not work, you can view it on YouTube.

In 2017, wildfires in Portugal burned about 560,000 hectares (1.3 million acres) of forest, representing 60 percent of Europe’s wildfire total, for a country that makes up just 2 percent of the continent’s landmass.

The fires were the deadliest in the country’s history, claiming more than 100 lives.