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Wednesday, July 20, 2022 – Firefighters in southwestern France, Southern and western Germany and Belgium battled on Tuesday, July 19 to contain massive forest wildfires while the UK recorded its highest ever temperature of 40 degrees in record heatwave.

The temperature of more than 40C (104F) was provisionally recorded on Tuesday for the first time ever in Britain, the Met Office said.

Scientists have attributed the record heatwave in Europe to climate change.

Also authorities have put Britain on a state of “national emergency” over the unprecedented temperatures as the nation often struggles to maintain key transport services when hit by unexpected weather such as heavy snow or high winds.

Transport minister Grant Shapps said it would take many years to fully upgrade Britain’s infrastructure to cope with higher temperatures, after at least two airport runways showed signs of damage and some train tracks buckled.

“We’ve seen a considerable amount of travel disruption,” Shapps told the BBC. “Infrastructure, much of which was built from the Victorian times, just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature.”

In southwestern France, the wine-growing Gironde region saw its biggest wildfires in over 30 years.

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.

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.

More than 30 wildfires continued to ravage parts of Spain, with authorities paying special attention to four blazes in Castile and Leon and Galicia.

So far this year 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) have been burned in Spain, around twice the average of the last decade, official data showed before the heatwave.

In Greece, firefighters tackled 73 fires within 24 hours, the fire brigade said on Monday. The civil protection authority has warned of a very high risk of fires across the country on Tuesday.

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