Spain issued “extreme” danger alerts over scorching temperatures in three regions Tuesday as firefighters said a blaze that had raged for days in the Canary Islands had almost burnt itself out.
Temperatures peaked at 45.3 degrees Celsius (113.5 Fahrenheit) in Figueres, hometown of Salvador Dali in the northeastern Catalonia region, with the mercury hitting 43.7C in the Balearic Islands, the AEMET weather agency said.
Forecasters had issued a red alert for extreme heat in both regions as well as in Aragon, also in the north east, where they advised people to stay out of the blistering sun during the hottest hours and to stay well hydrated.
“We have passed the halfway point of July and, so far, practically every day has had above-normal temperatures. In fact, the first 17 days of July have been the third-warmest on record behind 2022 and 2015,” AEMET tweeted.
Visiting Madrid from the southern city of Seville, Lidia Rodriguez, 27, admitted she was used to the heat but said temperatures in the Spanish capital were “suffocating”.
“You can’t be in the street, it’s horrible, horrible, horrible,” she told AFP.
The interior ministry said much of Spain was facing a “very high” or “extreme” risk of wildfires due to the soaring temperatures, which are affecting most of the Mediterranean.
Since Saturday, hundreds of firefighters in the Canary Islands have been battling a wildfire on the island of La Palma backed by nine water-carrying aircraft trying to extinguish a fire raging through wooded, hilly terrain.
But cooler overnight temperatures and higher air humidity levels helped firefighters to gain the upper hand in their battle against the blaze.
And by Tuesday evening, the fire appeared to be “on its last legs” and close to “dying out”, Federico Grillo, one of the experts involved in fighting the blaze wrote on Twitter.
The fire destroyed some 3,500 hectares (8,700 acres) of land, burned around 20 houses and buildings and forced 4,000 residents to evacuate on an island which two years ago was ravaged by a three-month volcanic eruption.
Local authorities urged residents of several towns to remain indoors as much as possible, and use face masks when outside, because of the poor air quality due to the wildfire.
This is the third heatwave to hit Spain this summer. Scientists say heatwaves have become more likely due to climate change.
As global temperatures rise over time, heatwaves are predicted to become more frequent and intense, and their impacts more widespread.
“For the last five to 10 years, every year, it is hotter,” said 66-year-old Madrid resident Jose Luis Llamas.
“We have to take action. Every country should take steps to deal with this problem,” he added.
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