0221 GMT August 18, 2022
Southern and western Germany and Belgium were also braced for potentially record-breaking temperatures as the heatwave, which scientists attribute to climate change, edged north and east, Reuters reported.
A temperature of more than 40°C (104°F) was provisionally recorded on Tuesday for the first time ever in Britain, the Met Office said.
Authorities have put Britain, which often struggles to maintain key transport services when hit by unexpected weather such as heavy snow or high winds, on a state of “national emergency” over the unprecedented temperatures.
In southwestern France, the Gironde region saw its biggest wildfires in over 30 years and authorities said a man had been detained on suspicion of arson.
The fires have spread across 19,300 hectares (about 75 sq miles) in the countryside surrounding Bordeaux since July 12, forcing a total of 34,000 people to evacuate their homes.
About 2,000 firefighters, supported by eight water-bomber aircraft, were battling the blazes.
“Despite attacks from the ground and from the air, the situation has still not stabilised,” the state prefecture said in a statement, adding there had been no reports of death or injury.
A study published by climate scientists in June in the journal “Environmental Research: Climate” concluded it was highly probable that climate change was making heatwaves worse.
With human-caused climate change triggering droughts, the number of extreme wildfires is expected to increase 30% within the next 28 years, according to a February 2022 U.N. report.
Although the mercury dipped back towards more normal summer levels in Spain and Portugal, firefighters in both countries were still battling multiple blazes.