Fires blaze in Spain, Morocco and Israel

The combination of the fierce heat and rise in suspended dust particles has increased the fire risk. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID, RABAT, JERUSALEM (AFP/REUTERS) - Spain saw its highest temperature on record on Saturday (Aug 14) as a heatwave on the Iberian peninsula drove the mercury to 47.4 degrees Celsius, according to provisional data from the state meteorological agency.

The temperature peaked around five pm local time in the southern town of Cordoba, the agency said, passing the previous record set at the same measuring station in July 2017 by one-tenth of a degree.

"If confirmed, it would be the highest record reliably measured in Spain," agency spokesman Ruben del Campo said.

The intense heat wave hitting Spain continued on Sunday with five regions still on high alert over extreme temperatures.

The heat wave "will probably rank among among the most intense in living memory", according to the Del Campo newspaper.

The combination of the fierce heat and rise in suspended dust particles has also increased the fire risk, with the country remaining on high alert.

Twelve aircraft were on Sunday deployed to help fight a blaze in Azuebar, a municipality in Valencia, according to the regional government.

The blaze is threating part of the Sierra de Espadan Natural Park.

There were also fires of concern in central Avila province, where several towns have been evacuated.

Between 2011 and 2020, Spain registered twice as many heat waves as in the previous three decades, according to the agency. Scientists consider that this pattern of heat waves is an unequivocal sign of climate change that will only get worse.

Forest fires rage in northern Morocco

Firefighters in northern Morocco are battling to put out two forest blazes, a forestries official said Sunday as the North African kingdom swelters in a heatwave. "Non-stop efforts are underway to control the fires which broke out on Saturday afternoon," said Rachid El-Anzi, director of the water and forestry department in the Chefchaouen region.

He said firefighting planes were being used to tackle the conflagrations which had already destroyed some 200 hectares of forest. Several parts of the North African kingdom have seen temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius, according to weather authorities.

"There have been no victims, as priority has been given to preventing fires approaching residential areas," El-Anzi said. He said the cause of the fires was not known, but that they had been spurred by high temperatures and strong winds, which are expected to last into Monday.

Morocco joins several other Mediterranean countries that have seen forest fires in recent weeks, including neighbouring Algeria where at least 90 people were killed in wildfires last week.

Wildfire blazes in Jerusalem hills

A firefighting plane disperses fire retardant as it assists in extinguishing a fire at the outskirts of Jerusalem, on Aug 15, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

A wildfire blazed in hills west of Jerusalem on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of several small outlying communities, emergency services and witnesses said, as clouds of smoke drifted over parts of the city about 10 km away.

Israel's Magen David Adom national ambulance service said no injuries were immediately reported. Firefighting planes and crews on the ground were battling the flames, visible from the main highway linking Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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