Almost every summer, Europe is hit by terrible fires. Since the turn of the millennium, the Mediterranean countries have increasingly been fighting so-called mega forest fires, which often only end when the weather conditions change or the fire runs out of fuel.
Let’s discover some of the worst fires in the last years.
2017: Fires In Southern Europe
Two years ago, Southern Europe was on fire for weeks. In some regions it had not rained for months, which had a particularly devastating effect in Portugal.
Already in June and July innumerable forest fires raged there, and they went on until autumn. In mid-October, 443 fires broke out in a single day, destroying 190,000 hectares of forest. A total of 115 people died. There had never before been such a catastrophe in Portugal.
In Italy, another hotspot, 371 forest fires destroyed 72,000 hectares of land by the end of July alone and cost eleven people their lives. The holiday islands of Sardinia and Sicily were severely affected, as were numerous cities throughout the country for which the highest alarm level was declared. In southern France, tens of thousands of locals and tourists had to leave their homes, holiday homes and campsites. The flames also raged in Greece and Croatia.
2014: Sweden Experiences Worst Fire in 40 Years
Sweden has recently suffered a devastating fire: five years ago the largest forest fire of the last 40 years broke out in the province of Västmanland west of the capital Stockholm. The government declared a national emergency and mobilised the army, but was still dependent on the help of fire-fighting planes from France and Italy. Thousands of residents had to be evacuated. According to official figures, one man was killed and over 15,000 hectares of land were destroyed.
2010: Breathing Masks in Moscow
From the end of June to mid-August 2010, the heat in large parts of Russia was the greatest since weather records began. In addition, many soils had dried up – the ideal conditions for the spread of fire. 700 forest fires raged around Moscow in the west of the country alone. The government therefore declared a state of emergency in seven regions. At times, more than 240,000 civilian rescue workers and 2,000 members of the army as well as 54 fire-fighting aircraft were deployed. Nevertheless, it took weeks to get the fires under control.
According to official figures, the fires claimed at least 50 lives, with aid organisations expecting more victims. There can only be speculation about the numbers of injured people and those made homeless by the fires. In parts of Russia there was a high concentration of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which was harmful to health. In the capital Moscow, residents were asked to stay in their homes. Some of them were only 50 metres away. Foreign embassy personnel were partly evacuated, governments issued travel warnings. In addition, air traffic at Moscow’s three international airports was severely impaired due to poor visibility.