Heat wave scorches Europe as UK reaches record-breaking temperatures

By Sana Noor Haq, Hafsa Khalil, Angela Dewan, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:43 AM ET, Wed July 20, 2022
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9:23 a.m. ET, July 19, 2022

Extreme heat sears parts of western Europe

From CNN's Joseph Ataman, Jimmy Hutcheon, Xiaofei Xu, Zahid Mahmood, Sana Noor Haq, and Jorge Engels

Firefighters from the Brigadas de Refuerzo en Incendios Forestales (BRIF) tackle a forest fire at El Hoyo de Pinares on July 18, in Avila, Spain
Firefighters from the Brigadas de Refuerzo en Incendios Forestales (BRIF) tackle a forest fire at El Hoyo de Pinares on July 18, in Avila, Spain (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Extreme heat has engulfed parts of western Europe, with wildfires raging in France and Spain, a worsening drought in Portugal, and the third hottest day on record in the UK on Monday.

Fire has spread across 27,000 acres in the Gironde department of southwest France, forcing 32,000 people to evacuate, while nearby town, Cazaux recorded 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday -- the hottest it has seen since its weather station first opened more than 100 years ago in 1921 -- according to French national meteorological service Météo France.

In Spain, wildfires swept the central region of Castile and Léon, as well as the northern region of Galicia Sunday, Reuters reported. Fire also forced the state railway company to suspend service between Madrid and Galicia.

More than 70,000 hectares have been destroyed in Spain because of fires this year, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday, which “is almost double the last decade's average."

The country's Carlos III Health Institute on Monday estimated a cumulative total of over 510 heatwave-related deaths in Spain, based on statistical calculation of excess deaths.

Hundreds have also died in neighboring Portugal, where sweltering temperatures exacerbate a severe drought with the health ministry saying 659 mainly elderly people had died in the previous seven days, Reuters reported.

In total, over 1,100 people are thought to have died due to the ongoing heatwave in southern Europe.

On Tuesday, the blistering heat is expected to peak; the French capital Paris is expected to reach 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit), while the UK’s Monday temperature of 38.1 degrees, is expected to be surpassed, and be “even hotter” of potentially going over 40 degrees, according to the Met Office’s CEO Penelope Endersby.

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