Spate of wildfires scorches parts of Europe, with firefighters battling blazes in several countries amid an unusual heatwave that is being linked to climate crisis and global heating.
Nearly 20 blazes have raged across Portugal and several burned in western Spain, menacing villages and disrupting tourists' holidays amid a heatwave that meteorologists expect to push temperatures into the high 40s Celsius.
In France, about 800 firefighters, supported by six water-bomber aircraft, were battling two wildfires in the southwest, which have already prompted the evacuation of thousands of campers, Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio said on Wednesday.
In Santiago de Guarda in the central Portuguese district of Leiria, Albertina Francisco struggled to hold back tears as a cloud of black smoke billowed over the tiny village.
Some villagers rescued pets while others helped firefighters battle the flames.
In Leiria, where temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius and over 3,000 hectares have been burnt so far, authorities blocked major motorways and side streets as strong winds made it harder for firefighters to fight the flames.
Nearly 750 firefighters were combating two active blazes in Leiria alone, while in the whole of mainland Portugal there were 2,751 firefighters on the ground, backed by 23 aircraft.
Videos shared online showed flames edging close to villas, burning palm trees and parts of golf courses.
READ MORE: Portugal announces 'state of contingency' as wildfires grow
Nearly 3,000 firefighters battle wildfires in central and northern Portugal as the region experiences severe heatwave pic.twitter.com/JYsJzWNpJy— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) July 11, 2022
Fuelled by strong winds, fires raged along Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast as well, with the most dramatic situation reported near the town of Sibenik, where water-dropping planes and dozens of firefighters struggled to contain the flames that briefly engulfed some cars and a church tower.
More than 2,700 hectares have burned so far in France's Gironde region, prefect Buccio told BFM TV.
The biggest of the two fires is around the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux, where roads have been closed and 500 residents evacuated.
The other one is along the Atlantic Coast, close to the iconic "Dune du Pilat" – the tallest sand dune in Europe – located in the Arcachon Bay area, above which heavy clouds of dark smoke were seen rising in the sky.
That fire led to the preventive evacuation of 6,000 people from five surrounding campsites. They were taken for shelter at a local exhibition centre.
"Other campers woke us up at around 4:30 in the morning. We had to leave immediately and quickly choose what to take with us," Christelle, one of the evacuated tourists, told BFM TV.
On the eve of Bastille Day, the Gironde prefecture has forbidden all fireworks until Monday in towns and villages in close proximity to forests.
Firefighters tackled a forest fire near the tourist town of Datca in Türkiye and officials said at least nine water-dropping helicopters and five planes were deployed to battle the fire.
The World Meteorological Organization warned on Tuesday the heatwave was spreading and intensifying in large parts of Europe.
With human-caused climate crisis triggering droughts, the number of extreme wildfires is expected to increase 30 percent within the next 28 years, according to a February 2022 UN report.
READ MORE: Spain battles wildfires amid record-breaking heatwave across Europe