Additional wildfires break out in Europe as extreme heat continues

Multiple wildland-urban interface fires in greater London destroy dozens of homes

Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures United Kingdom
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures in the UK July 19, 2022. Sky News.

On Tuesday the wildland fire danger north of London reached the “Very Extreme” stage which is three steps up from High which is followed by Very High and Extreme.

Highest ever temperatures were experienced in the United Kingdom. London Heathrow airport was among six locations to reach 104 degrees (40 Celsius) on Tuesday, shattering Britain’s all-time temperature record after the country declared a national emergency, well above the 2019 record of 101.7 degrees (38.7 Celsius).

Wildland fire danger in the UK, July 19, 2022
Wildland fire danger in the UK, July 19, 2022.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter: “London Fire Brigade has just declared a major incident in response to a huge surge in fires across the capital today. This is critical: @LondonFire is under immense pressure.”

The agency listed 11 fires they were dealing with Tuesday at 3 p.m. local time. At least 10 involve vegetation:

  • Thirty fire engines dealing with a grass fire on Pea Lane in Upminster.
  • Fifteen fire engines tackling a fire on The Green in Wennington.
  • Twelve fire engines tackling a fire involving garden fencing and trees on Uxbridge Road in Pinner.
  • Ten fire engines tackling a restaurant fire on Green Lanes in Southgate.
  • Eight fire engines tackling a grass fire on Oaks Road in Croydon.
  • Eight fire engines tackling a grass fire on Ballards Road in Dagenham.
  • Eight fire engines tackling a fire on The Broadway in Wembley.
  • Six fire engines tackling a grass fire on Sunningfields Crescent in Hendon.
  • Four fire engines tackling a grass fire on Chapel View in Croydon.
  • Four fire engines tackling a fire on Sidcup Road in Eltham.
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures United Kingdom
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures in the UK July 19, 2022. Sky News.

Other wildfires are also occurring in the UK.

Hundreds of deaths have been attributed to the heat in Spain and Portugal since last week, and wildfires have forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes there, as well as in France.

In Spain a man who was building a fireline with an excavator abandoned the equipment as it was overrun by fire. He fled through a field with his clothes on fire and was transported to a hospital.

In southwestern France, wildfires have destroyed at least 19,000 hectares (47,000 acres) as temperatures rose to 108.8 degrees (42.7 Celsius) Monday, when dozens of locations set all-time highs. Conditions eased Tuesday when  a cool oceanic air mass arrived overnight.

In the United States night time temperatures are rising, which can affect fuel moisture, fuel temperature, and lower than average minimum relative humidity, all resulting in higher wildland fire danger. It also appears to be happening in Europe, at least recently.

From the Washington Post:

The United Kingdom not only posted its highest maximum daytime temperatures on record, but also its maximum overnight temperatures — with some locations not dipping below the upper 70s (25 to 26 Celsius). The lack of nighttime cooling was of grave concern to health officials as only a tiny percentage of British homes have air-conditioning.

By Wednesday, the core of the heat is forecast to focus over central and eastern Germany, Poland and southern Scandinavia as the heat dome is nudged eastward.

From Friday into the weekend, a new heat dome will build over southern Europe with extremely high temperatures over Spain, France and Italy, which have already endured multiple bouts of punishing heat this summer.

Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures United Kingdom
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures in the UK July 19, 2022. Sky News.
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures United Kingdom
A farmer uses spray equipment to check the spread of a grass fire in the UK July 19, 2022. Sky News.
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures United Kingdom
Multiple wildland-urban interface fires destroyed structures in the UK July 19, 2022. Sky News.
Heat Sources detected in Europe fires wildfires
Heat Sources detected in Europe by satellites, for the 7-day period ending July 19, 2022.

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.

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

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.

German ‘hippy’ sentenced to prison for deadly island wildfire

The 27-year-old German cave-dweller who ignited a deadly wildfire while burning used toilet paper on a Spanish island has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Scott Verdine Stumpf admitted last year to accidentally starting the August fire while burning used toilet paper — Spanish media outlets reported he had been living in a nearby cave for an extended period of time. In addition to prison, he was ordered to pay the equivalent of about $2 million U.S. dollars in restitution, local media outlets reported.

The wildfire blackened about 5,000 acres and forced hundreds of evacuations on La Palma, a landmass that is part of Spain’s Canary Islands. Francisco Jose Santana, a park ranger and married father of five, died during firefighting operations.

Large wildfire burns homes at Javea, Spain

A large wildfire on Spain’s Mediterranean coast has destroyed structures and forced 1,000 residents and holiday makers to evacuate.

The fire started Sunday in the Javea area, a popular tourist resort at Costa Blanca and was attacked by 300 firefighters and 20 water-dropping aircraft. They had the fire temporarily knocked down, but after sunset when the aircraft were grounded it picked up again. The fire was still active Monday morning.

According to the The Telegraph, the fire was started deliberately in three spots between Javea and Benitachell and has burned approximately 20 homes. The army has been called in to assist firefighters.

map fire Javea Spain
The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite as a wildfire burned near Javea, Spain.
Map Javea fire
This 3-D Map shows the approximate area where the Javea fire burned September 4 and 5, 2016. This is a very rough estimate, based on the satellite data. Click to enlarge.

The fire started on one of the hottest days of the year when the temperature reached 40ºC (104ºF).

Many people have posted information on Twitter about the fire, including BBC media personality Chris Stark, who sounds like the actor Hugh Grant in a couple of videos he has uploaded about the fire. Apparently he was on holiday in the area. We can’t embed Twitter videos, but you can see them here. For a while he thought that perhaps his apartment and car had burned, but at the last report they were spared.

Chris Stark
Chris Stark. A screenshot from one of his videos posted Monday morning, U.S. time.

The video below is a drive through a residential area in which the fire burned.

Wildland firefighters in Spain strike as fires burn

It was only a few days ago that we told you about some wildland firefighters in Spain, the BRIF (reinforcement brigade forest fire). Now they are on strike.

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Local:


“Over 800 people were evacuated from the villages of Ca l’Esteve, El Bosc Gran and Monserrat Parc in Ódena near Barcelona, after wildfires broke out over the weekend.

At least 1,000 hectares of vegetation have been destroyed by the fire, which broke out on Sunday afternoon. While the fire continues to rage, firefighters have stabilized the perimeter ensuring the flames did not expand further overnight, according to the Spanish Huffington Post.

The evacuated residents were spread out over neighbouring villages, where they souht refuge overnight in a basketball arena and a library, quickly set up to accommodate them.

To make matters worse, firefighters from Spain’s forest firefightingservice (BRIF) began an indefinite strike on Monday in protest against working conditions and low pay. It is the first time such a strike has taken place while wildfires sweep vast areas of Spain, the association of forest firefighters, Atbrif, said in a statement on its website.

“Is it fair that we make such a ridiculously paltry amount while we put our lives at risk?” the firefighters’ association said.

The association is meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Madrid on Monday.”


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