LISBON, Portugal – The Latest on hot weather and wildfires in Europe (all times local):
A European Union official says the dozens of forest fires in Sweden this summer “have highlighted once again the impact of climate change.”
EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides says, “we are facing a new reality” regarding climate change. He said the 28-member bloc must “collectively learn from these tragedies” and must become “collectively (be) better prepared and stronger in responding to multiple disasters across the continent.”
Stylianides said Monday in Stockholm that more than 360 firefighters, seven planes, six helicopters and 67 vehicles were mobilized through the European Civil Protection Mechanism in the past three weeks, calling it the “the single biggest operation” in a decade.
Sweden has seen dozens of wildfires, mostly in central and western parts of the country but also even above the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. Fires have died down, but authorities remain vigilant.
Authorities in Norway have warned motorists to watch out for reindeer and sheep taking shelter from the heat in tunnels.
The Norwegian Public Roads Administration said that last month there was a collision between a motorcycle and a reindeer and Norway’s main news agency NTB says there have been 44 collisions with roaming reindeer and sheep since July 10, most of them fatal for the animals.
The administration said the reports come mainly from Arctic Norway, which has seen high temperatures in recent weeks.
Norway has an estimated reindeer population of 220,000, and according to official figures, more than 800,000 sheep.
Three French cities have banned the most polluting cars from the roads because of pollution linked to the current heat wave in Europe.
In Paris and Strasbourg, the ban concerns vehicles that are 12 years and older, while in Lyon only cars with a clean air sticker are allowed.
Authorities warned of a peak of ozone pollution Monday because of high temperatures. Ozone is formed in the atmosphere from emissions of other air pollutants including emissions from vehicles.
It can cause irritation to the eyes, sore throats and breathing problems.
The heat wave in France is expected to last until Thursday, with temperatures peaking Tuesday.
Four nuclear reactors have already been temporarily closed in France because of the high heat.
Emergency services in Portugal say they are still fighting a major wildfire on the south coast that threatened to engulf a hillside town overnight.
The Civil Protection Agency said Monday that 44 people required medical assistance as the blaze passed by the outskirts of Monchique, 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Lisbon, in the dark. A 72-year-old woman was seriously hurt.
Authorities said that more than 1,000 firefighters with 327 vehicles and seven aircraft were battling the blaze.
The wind-driven fire has raced across tinder-dry pine and eucalyptus forest in a largely inaccessible hill range behind the famous beaches of Portugal’s Algarve vacation region.
Plumes of black smoke have blown across beaches popular with European tourists.
Firefighters expect forecast cooler temperatures to help them bring the fire under control