Greece has been plunged into a wave of grief and anger after 85 people died in one of the country's worst wildfires in years. This season is set to be particularly bad in Greece with an estimated 6,884 hectares of land already burnt compared to an average of 8,361 between 2008 and 2017. Elsewhere in Southern Europe, the amount of land burnt is much lower than the historical average due to cool and wet weather in early spring and summer. By contrast, Northwest Europe is experiencing a heat wave with temperatures matching and even surpassing those in Mediterranean countries.
According to the EU's Copernicus emergency management service, countries in Northwest Europe are experiencing a higher number of wildfires than average this year. In Sweden, nearly 19,000 hectares of land have burnt this year compared to just 454 on average from 2008 to 2017. Swedish Air Force fighter jets even dropped bombs to put out forest fires on Wednesday in a successful attempt to literally blow the fire away from trees.
Elsewhere, Latvia has an estimated burnt area of 2,176 hectares in the 2018 season compared to just 10 hectares on average since 2008. The UK is also having a difficult season with just under 13,888 hectares burnt so far. Ireland, well known for its rainy summers, is another country experiencing a surge in fires this year. Its air force has been conducting rare cross-border helicopter missions to assist authorities in Northern Ireland who are struggling to cope with their own blazes.
This chart shows the estimated number of hectares burnt in 2018 compared with 2008-17 average.
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