Forest fires rage across Europe and North America as scorching temperatures and dry conditions fuel fires that have claimed lives and destroyed livelihoods.

The combination of extreme heat and prolonged drought has resulted in many regions having the worst fires in nearly a decade, and comes as the IPCC prepares to deliver a landmark report on the climate crisis.

Scientists warn that rising global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions are increasing the risk of fires across the planet.

Parts of Europe are experiencing strong heat waves, while hot, dry gusts have caused devastating forest fires in California. The US state is fighting to contain the biggest fire in its history. More than 100 other large fires are raging in other parts of America.

Here are some of the countries currently battling serious fires:

Greece

Greece has fought some of the worst fires in Europe amid scorching temperatures. Fires raged across the country for nearly two weeks, leaving dozens of people in need of hospital treatment.

Euboea, Greece’s second largest island, was under serious threat over the weekend and thousands of people packed their belongings and fled their homes.

Already, the scale of destruction is greater than in previous fire seasons.

In the 10 days leading up to August 7, nearly 57,000 hectares (140,000 acres) were burned in Greece, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. The average area burned over the same period between 2008 and 2020 was 1,700 hectares.

Turkey

Fires have swept across swathes of the south coast over the past 10 days, killing at least eight people.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and the fire devastated vast swathes of pine forests and farmland. The rain brought some respite this weekend.

Firefighters tackle a blaze in Mulga, Turkey, last week Photograph: Xinhua / REX / Shutterstock

Italy

The fires continue to threaten parts of southern Italy, with Sicily and Sardinia among the hardest hit regions.

The first major forest fires in the country, between July 24 and July 26, destroyed 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of forest and forced the evacuation of 800 people from their homes in southwest Sardinia.

Russia

The Siberian authorities decided to evacuate on Sunday several villages in the vast region, where 155 fires are burning. The hot weather, coupled with neglect of fire safety regulations, has caused a growing number of underworlds, which have destroyed dozens of homes and buildings.

A view of the village of Byas-Kuel after a forest fire, in the vast region of Siberia in Russia
A view of the village of Byas-Kuel after a forest fire, in the vast region of Siberia in Russia Photograph: Vadim Skryabin / AP

United States

Northern California firefighters in the United States are battling the largest wildfire in state history.

The Dixie Fire, named after the road it started almost four weeks ago, has grown to an area of ​​1,875 square kilometers. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, only 21% of the fire is contained. It burned down an area more than twice the size of New York City.

Burnt down fire station in downtown Greenville, California
Burnt down fire station in downtown Greenville, California Photograph: Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

Heat waves and the historic drought associated with climate change have made wildfires more difficult to fight in the American West. California’s fire season is on track to overtake last year’s season, which was itself the worst fire season in recent state history.

The fires raging in California were among 107 large fires burning in 14 states, mostly in the west.

Canada

Fires continue to burn across British Columbia despite some rains this weekend. Local media reported 279 wildfires raging across the province on Sunday, with tens of thousands of residents subject to evacuation alerts.

British Columbia has seen nearly 5,800 km2 of its forest burnt since the spring, and there are still months of fire season left.

With Associated Press and Agence-France Presse


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