Burning homes and forests on fire: 11 pictures that capture the devastation of climate crisis as heatwave sweeps Europe

Europe is burning, as wildfires erupted in parts of Greece, Spain, Turkey, and Switzerland on the heels of a deadly heatwave that gripped the continent last week.

Thousands of people were evacuated from at least six seaside communities near Athens, after three wildfires broke out in Greece yesterday.

Simultaneously, the Spanish island of La Palma was engulfed by a forest fire that began on Saturday as authorities continued working to contain the blaze on Monday.

Not just Europe, climate change is forcing extreme weather conditions and wildfires in other parts of the world, including the United States, as well.

“In many parts of the world, today is predicted to be the hottest day on record,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the secretary-general of the World Health Organization, wrote on Twitter. “And these records have already been broken a few times this year.

“Heatwaves put our health and lives at risk. The #ClimateCrisis is not a warning. It’s happening.”

These 11 photographs offer proof:

EIRIF forest firefighters work during the extinction of the Tijarafe fire on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain July 16, 2023


Over 4,000 people were temporarily evacuated in La Palma in the Canary islands earlier this week, after a huge wildfire began in the early hours of Saturday and burned through 10,000 acres of land by Monday.

In this photo taken by UME (military emergency unit), firefighters work to extinguish a forest fire in the Puntagorda area on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain, Monday July 17, 2023.


More than 500 firefighters were joined by water-carrying helicopters that tried to douse the flames, as 20 homes were left severely damaged.


More fires erupted in Greece than authorities were able to handle, as it was reported on Tuesday that Athens had requested the European Union for assistance combatting the blazes that engulfed various parts of the country – beginning in Kouvaras on Monday.

Greek police on 17 July 2023 arrested a man suspected of starting an ongoing wildfire near Athens fuelled by a heatwave and strong winds, firefighters said. “Police carried out the arrest of a foreigner who allegedly caused the fire” in Kouvaras, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Athens

(AFP via Getty Images)

Greek police arrested a man on suspicion of starting the wildfire near Athens fuelled by a heatwave and strong winds, firefighters said. “Police carried out the arrest of a foreigner who allegedly caused the fire” in the village of Kouvaras, located around 27 kilometres from Athens.

People evacuate horses from a horse riding centre, as a wildfire burns in Kalyvia, near Athens, Greece, 17 July 2023


Fanned by shifting winds, the fire quickly spread from the village to the coastal towns of Anavyssos, Lagonisi and Saronida, as residents were forced to leave their homes. “Due to high winds, the blaze spread across 12 kilometres in two hours,” a spokesperson for the fire service said.

Greek television showed several houses and cars gutted by the blaze and thick white smoke billowing from burning vegetation.

A woman looks at smoke from a wildfire some 50km southeast from the centre of Athens on July 17, 2023.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Over 1,200 children were evacuated from a holiday camp near the seaside resort of Loutraki, the town’s mayor confirmed on Monday in a statement to private television channel Skai

As of Tuesday, 230 firefighters assisted by 76 fire engines and five helicopters were still operating at different spots in the area, a Greek fire service official said.

A firefighter aims water with a hose at a house near Loutraki 80 Kilometres west of Athens , on Monday, July 17, 2023


“(I only have) my bathing suit which I swim in, nothing else, and this shirt, I have nothing else, I don’t even have other shoes. Nothing. I am finished,” an 89-year-old man, Giorgos Nikolaou, 89, who saw his house in Lagonissi severely damaged by the fire told Reuters.

Loutraki Mayor Giorgos Gionis said municipal workers were assisting seniors in the evacuations, adding that the operation has been impeded by cell phone reception outages.

A firefighting helicopter dumps water as fire approach houses in Kalamaki near Agioi Theodori about 60 Kilometres west of Athens , on Monday, July 17, 2023.


The heatwave affecting the Mediterranean is predicted to intensify, with little respite until August in some places, the World Meterological Organisation announced on Monday.

A house burns during a wildfire at Kalyvia area in Attica, Greece, 17 July 2023


“The heat is forecast to intensify by the middle of the week (19 July) in parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Turkey,” it said. “A further continuation into August is likely.”

A firefighter helicopter drops water on wildfire as firefighter teams conduct extinguishing works by land and air to control wildfires in Canakkale, Turkiye on July 17, 2023

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Nineteen wildfires broke out in Turkey between Saturday and Monday, with temperatures in parts of the country predicted to hit at least 39C on Tuesday.

Videos posted to Twitter by Turkish officials showed fires in Canakkale, Hatay, and Tekirdag, and two neighbourhoods in Tekirdag’s Malkara district were evacuated.

General view of a wildfire on the flank of a mountain in Bitsch near Brig, Switzerland, 18 July 2023


A fire also broke out on the forested flank of a mountain in Bitsch near Brig, in Switzerland on Monday. By Tuesday, the it had spread to more than 100 hectares of forest, and forced over 200 people to evacuate. Authorities warned the blaze could spread further if winds pick up and take days or weeks to extinguish fully.

Additional reporting on wires.

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