By Joseph Ataman, Jimmy Hutcheon, Xiaofei Xu, Zahid Mahmood, Sana Noor Haq, and Jorge Engels, CNN
Extreme heat has engulfed parts of western Europe, with wildfires raging in France and Spain, a worsening drought in Portugal, and the third hottest day on record in the UK on Monday.
Fire has spread across 27,000 acres in the Gironde department of southwest France, forcing 32,000 people to evacuate, the local prefecture said Monday night.
The nearby town of Cazaux recorded 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the hottest it has seen since its weather station first opened more than 100 years ago in 1921, according to French national meteorological service Météo France.
Major cities in Western France, such as Nantes and Brest, also hit new heat records, it said.
In Finistère, on the country’s Atlantic coast, fires had first been reported on Monday afternoon; less than eight hours later, the flames had decimated more than 700 acres of land, prompting the evacuation of several villages.
In Spain, wildfires swept the central region of Castile and Léon, as well as the northern region of Galicia Sunday, Reuters reported. Fire also forced the state railway company to suspend service between Madrid and Galicia.
More than 70,000 hectares have been destroyed in Spain because of fires this year, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday. “Seventy-thousand hectares, to give you an idea, is almost double the last decade’s average,” he said.
The heat wave in Portugal has intensified a pre-existing drought and sparked wildfires in central parts of the country, including in the village of Memoria, in the Leiria municipality.
The country’s Carlos III Health Institute on Monday estimated a cumulative total of more than 510 heatwave-related deaths in the country, based on statistical calculation of excess deaths.
Hundreds have also died in neighboring Portugal, where sweltering temperatures exacerbate a severe drought.
On Saturday, Portugal’s Health Ministry said 659 mainly elderly people had died in the previous seven days, Reuters reported.
An elderly couple also died Monday after their vehicle overturned while fleeing wildfires in northern Portugal, the country’s state broadcaster RTP reported.
In total, over 1,100 people are thought to have died due to the ongoing heatwave in southern Europe.