This year's ferocious wildfires on the US West Coast are taking a heavy toll on exhausted firefighters who see no end in sight to the blazes, with the coronavirus pandemic adding another layer of risk.
Intense heat, parched conditions and high winds fueled record-shattering wildfires and strained the electrical grid across much of California on Monday, forcing the Forest Service to close eight national forests.
Lightning-sparked wildfires in Northern California exploded in size Friday to become some of the largest in the western US state history, forcing thousands to flee and destroying hundreds of homes and other structures as reinforcements began arriving to help weary firefighters.
One of the hottest air temperatures recorded anywhere on the planet in at least a century, and possibly ever, was reached on Sunday afternoon at Death Valley in California’s Mojave Desert where it soared to 130°F (54.4°C).
Temperatures in Arctic Siberia soared to a record average for June, more than 5°C above normal, in a heat wave that is stoking some of the worst wildfires the region has ever known, European Union data showed.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered Russian police to investigate if wildfires in Siberia could have been started deliberately to conceal illegal logging activity, as army planes flew in to help firefighters battle the blazes.
Hundreds of firefighters battled on Saturday to contain wildfires in southern France as a stifling heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of Europe, killing at least three people in Italy.
Climate change in the Western US means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths.