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In the midst of a heatwave that is showing no signs of abating, thousands of firefighters are battling wildfires in Portugal, Spain, and southwestern France.

Europe heatwave: Deadly wildfires spread in Mediterranean

A pilot from northern Portugal of Europe perished in the Foz Coa region, close to the Spanish border, when his waterbombing aircraft crashed. More than 12,000 people have been evacuated from the Gironde region of France as fires rage through the area.

A wildfire that was raging in the Mijas hills in southern Spain, close to the Costa del Sol, forced nearly 2,300 residents to leave. Visitors to Torremolinos’ beach witnessed large smoke plumes rising in the hills where numerous planes were battling the flames. British resident Ashley Baker of Mijas, southern Spain, told the BBC that the fire had seemed more dangerous on Friday, but that the wind has already moved it out of his neighborhood.

“Just concerned and terrified… I’m doing my best to be tough, but I’m not okay. This week I want to forget, “She spoke.

In addition to helicopters circling to and from the coast to collect seawater to put out the flames, planes have been dumping fire retardant material. There are around 40 houses in our neighborhood, and Mr. Baker recalled that everyone was really tense and standing outside or on balconies to watch it.

“At the summits of the mountains, there are fires going right now. I’m relieved that it moved away from here. Living in the hills can be very frightening because road signs constantly inform you on the possibility of severe wildfires.”

A local inhabitant near the south-west Atlantic coast of France said the forest fires there felt “post-apocalyptic.” Karyn, who lives next to Teste-de-Buch, told news agency AFP, “I’ve never seen this before.” Nearly 10,000 hectares of land have been destroyed by one fire and another one just south of Bordeaux (25,000 acres). The fires are being fought by about 3,000 firefighters.

After being forced to leave their home in the village of Cazaux, Christophe Nader and his son-in-law are now staying at a shelter close to Teste-de-Buch with nothing more than the clothes they are currently wearing. He told the BBC that he hoped to return soon to save their cat. The temporary shelter, which contains furnished beds, is also home to hundreds of other people from the risk zone.

From there, animal rescues are organized, but it takes time, according to Jessica Parker of the BBC.

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