Wildfires: a record summer for burnt areas in Europe

Wildfires: a record summer for burnt areas in Europe

France had worse years in the 1970s before the European standardized data. But 2022, according to these figures, is the hardest in 16 years, largely because of two large back-to-back fires in the Gironde in the south-west of the country, where German, Polish and Austrian firefighters arrived this week.

Slovenia, Berlin, Spain, Portugal

The situation is also exceptional in Central Europe: in July, for example, it took firefighters more than ten days to bring the largest fire in Slovenia’s recent history under control, aided by a population so mobile that the government had to call out to residents to no longer make donations to the fire brigade. However, because Slovenia didn’t have specialist planes to fight the fires, it had to seek help from Croatia, which sent a plane… before calling back to put out its own fires. The Slovenian government is now considering acquiring its first water bombers.

Also very spectacularly, in Berlin, Germany, a large fire broke out from a police ammunition depot in a forest amid a drought last week. The German capital is increasingly threatened due to the importance of its forest areas.

However, the Iberian Peninsula is hardest hit by the fires. Spain, parched like France by multiple heatwaves this summer, saw 246,278 hectares devastated by fires, mostly in Galicia in the northwest. However, the situation has improved with the drop in temperatures.

Portugal has also been fighting a fire in the UNESCO-recognized World Geopark in the region of the 2,000-meter-high Serra da Estrela mountain for more than a week.

France in 4th place

In terms of burnt areas, Spain is followed by Romania (150,528 hectares), Portugal (75,277 hectares) and France (61,289 hectares).

In the summer alone, “2022 is already a record year,” says Jesus San-Miguel, coordinator of EFFIS. The previous record for Europe is from 2017 when 420,913 hectares went up in smoke on August 13 and 988,087 hectares in one year. “I hope we don’t have the October we had this year,” he continues; At that time, 400,000 hectares were destroyed across Europe in one month.