Heat kills 1000 in Portugal as wildfires burn Europe

STORY: As temperatures soar across Europe, massive wildfires have erupted throughout the continent - Spain, Greece, France, Italy and the UK all battling blazes, while Portugal reports more than 1,000 deaths from the heat.

Firefighters in southwestern France on Tuesday fought to contain the region's biggest wildfire in over 30 years. Authorities said a man had been detained on suspicion of arson.

The fires have spread across 75 square miles in the countryside surrounding Bordeaux over the last week, forcing more than 30,000 people to evacuate.

In southwestern France, Paul Virtue watched from the beach on Tuesday as the flames crept toward his home.

"So we only hope that this can be contained in the forest, and we can go back to our homes within the next week. And then we can look at the damage."

In Greece, strong winds fueled a wildfire near homes on the outskirts of Athens, prompting authorities to order evacuations, while fires engulfed the village of Wennington in Greater London, destroying homes on Tuesday as temperatures in the UK hit their highest levels ever recorded.

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 United Nations report.

The health impact of the heatwave has been in focus, with particular care given to the elderly and vulnerable.

The head of Portugal's health authority told Reuters that 1,063 excess deaths due to the heatwave were recorded from July 7 to 18.

Carlos Antunes, a researcher at Lisbon University's faculty of sciences, said the data showed the elderly were most likely to die due to heatwaves.

"With climate change, it is expected that this increase in mortality will intensify and therefore we have to take measures at the public health level to minimize the impact."

Experts said the hot nighttime temperatures are hindering firefighting responses across Europe and worsening health conditions as the night hours fail to provide a cooling reprieve.