Southern Europe battles wildfires, homes destroyed

STORY: Wildfires swept across Spain on Monday (July 18) as the Southern European country faced the eighth day of a heatwave.

Much of Europe has been baking in extreme heat that has pushed temperatures over 110 Fahrenheit in some regions.

Soaring temperatures have sparked wildfires across tinder-dry countryside in Spain, as well as neighboring Portugal and France.

In Spain’s Catalonia region, residents like Onofre Munoz were forced to flee their homes and seek shelter in temporary accommodation.

“We know, for example, that our house is completely burned. We also had a van arranged to travel. We bought the van when I retired. And now, it is fully cremated. We have nothing. Our house had quite a few windows, they exploded, and very strong flames came inside. We knew yesterday afternoon because we got some pictures where we saw everything had burned.”

On Monday Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited the site of a fire in the western Extremadura region.

“I want to say that evidently climate change kills. It kills people, kills our ecosystem, the bio-diversity and it also destroys the most precious goods of our society which is affected by these wildfires: homes, businesses, livestock..”

Sanchez also paid tribute to a firefighter who had died battling wildfires in the country’s Zamora region.

A second death caused by wildfires was reported on Monday.

Emergency services said a 69-year-old man was found dead in Ferreruela. Local media say he was a farmer.

There have also been more than 510 heat related deaths, according to estimates from the Carlos III Health Institute.

More than 173,000 acres have burnt in Spain so far this year, according to official data.

Making it the worst year of the last decade.

In nearby Portugal, temperatures dropped over the weekend but the country’s Institute of Meteorology warned the risk of wildfires remains very high.

And in France, wildfires have also forced scores of residents to flee their homes.

And the country is bracing for extreme temperatures as the heatwave continues to move north.

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