A severe heatwave is spanning parts of western Europe and the British Isles, sparking several destructive forest fires in some regions that have caused at least two deaths in Spain—experts say it highlights the impact of climate change on the region which is likely to get no respite on Tuesday.
Due to the high temperatures, two massive forest fires have continued to rage on in southwestern France’s Gironde region for the past five days, according to France 24.
Authorities have been unable to contain the fires, despite deploying more than 1,200 firefighters and multiple aerial firefighting planes.
In Spain, a forest fire in the Zamora province has claimed at least two lives, including a firefighter and a farmer, the Associated Press reported.
Spain has already reported at least 537 heat-related deaths this month while neighboring Portugal—which has faced its own string of forest fires—has reported at least 659 such fatalities.
In the U.K., weather officials warned that the U.K. could see a record high temperature of 43°C (109.4°F) on Tuesday and the Met Office issued a ‘red’ warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday.
While on a visit surveying the damage from forest fires on Monday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said: “Climate change kills people, our ecosystem and what is most precious to us.”
Climate scientists have warned that unprecedented heat waves like the current one in Europe may become the norm as climate change pushes global temperatures higher. Longer heat spells could lead to larger and more destructive forest fires and droughts. Europe’s climate action plans have been thrown into disarray due to the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—prompting major economies like Germany to reactivate coal plants. On Monday, officials from 40 different countries met in Berlin to discuss plans for tackling climate change.