Wildfires in Europe burn second-biggest area on record

BRUSSELS– Wildfires raging through Europe this summer have burned the second-largest area on record, even though the region is only halfway through its typical fire season, according to data from the European Union’s Joint Research Centre, Reuters reported.

A dozen European countries have suffered major blazes this year, forcing thousands to evacuate and destroying homes and businesses. Countries including Italy, Spain and France still face extreme fire risk.

Wildfires have burned 600,731 hectares in EU countries this year so far, the data showed. That ranks as the second-highest total for any year since 2006, when records began. In 2017, 987,844 hectares were burned.

This year’s burned area is more than double the size of Luxembourg. No other year in the dataset had seen such a high amount of burned land in Europe by August.

The Mediterranean region’s typical fire season runs from June to September.

Climate change is exacerbating fires, by increasing the hot and dry conditions that help them spread faster, burn longer and rage more intensely. Hotter weather saps moisture from vegetation, turning it into dry fuel – a problem exacerbated by shrinking workforces in some areas to clear this vegetation.

Source: Saudi Press Agency