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Historic heatwave sparks wildfires in Europe

Historic heatwave sparks wildfires in Europe
A firefighter looks at a forest fire in Landiras, France, on Saturday. Photo courtesy of the Gironde Fire and Rescue Departmental Service/EPA-EFE

July 16 (UPI) -- Extreme heat throughout Europe has sparked wildfires in France, Portugal and Spain, prompting mass evacuations, local officials said.

Fires in southwestern France have burned some 24,700 acres and displaced thousands of people, Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency reported. The blazes were burning in the Gironde and Bouches-du-Rhone departments.

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French Premier Elisabeth Borne said a fire in La-Teste-de-Buch in Gironde department was caused by an electric vehicle.

French news outlet Sud Ouest said a restaurant, three houses and multiple cabins were destroyed in La-Teste-de-Buch.

BBC News reported that more than 11,000 people have fled the Gironde region of France, and residents were ordered to flee western Spain and Portugal, where dozens more fires were burning. Some 4,000 people were evacuated from the Cazaux district in France.

There were more than 30 active fires in Portugal as of Friday, torching more than 74,000 acres

Forest fires were also reported in Italy and Croatia this week as a historic heat wave overtakes western Europe. Accuweather said temperatures topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Portugal and Spain.

The warm air came from Africa's Sahara Desert, moving as far north as Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Britain.

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