Fires Rage Across Southern Europe, Western United States Amid Extreme Heat and Drought

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Wildfires

Engines respond to the Dixie Fire in Northern California on August 5, 2021. (Courtesy photo)
Engines respond to the Dixie Fire in Northern California on August 5, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Extreme wildfires are raging in countries across the world amid record-shattering heatwaves and drought conditions.

Forest fires near Athens, Greece, have forced thousands to evacuate, some by sea, as the country experiences its worst heatwave in over 30 years, according to the Associated Press. As of Wednesday, at least 77 people had been hospitalized due to the fires, according to state officials.

In Turkey, dozens of fires have been raging along the southern and western coasts, forcing mass evacuations and killing at least eight people, according to Al Jazeera. The fires have reduced villages to rubble and burned through large tracts of land, tearing through forests and destroying homes.

In Italy, hundreds of people have been evacuated as fires burn throughout the south. At least five people were wounded last weekend when fires broke out near Pescara, Italy, as reported by The Guardian. In Sicily, crews are battling several active blazes that have prompted evacuations by sea.

North Macedonia has declared a state of emergency in response to wildfires that have burned through much of the country’s eastern forests.

In the U.S., wildfires have tormented large swaths of the West throughout the summer as drought conditions and record-shattering heat persist.

More than 100 fires are actively burning across the country, with major blazes concentrated in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In California, the Dixie Fire has burned more than 430,000 acres, making it the third-largest wildfire in state history, according to Cal Fire. This week, the fire decimated the town of Greenville, located about 160 miles northeast of Sacramento, destroying more than one hundred homes and structures. Thousands have been forced to evacuate as the fire surges northward at just 35% containment. Smoky skies could be seen across much of Northern California on Friday.

Direct Relief’s Response

Since July, Direct Relief has shipped over $300,000 in medical supplies to health centers and clinics across seven fire-affected states in the U.S., including California, Oregon, and Washington. The supplies included PPE such as gowns and gloves, medical items such as eye drops and allergy medications, as well as hydrocortisone, antibiotics, and insulin.

On Friday, Direct Relief committed $1 million in medical and financial support to fire response, and the organization is in communication with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services as the state funnels resources to crews battling the Dixie Fire. Direct Relief stands by ready to assist responders with wound care supplies, N-95 masks, and backup power resources.

Internationally, Direct Relief is assessing needs across Southern Europe and is prepared to deploy supplies to fire-affected countries including Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia.

To combat the effects of climate change, Direct Relief has invested in solar power and backup battery solutions for health centers and clinics affected by climate-related disasters. The organization has helped fund solar/battery back-up systems planned for 25 California health centers and clinics in fire-prone areas and is preparing a “fleet” of solar-powered trailers, stocked with backup power, refrigeration units, and pop-up solar tents. Renewable energy projects have also been funded in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Dominica.

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