Wildfires Are Prompting Ongoing Tourist Evacuations in Italy and Greece

Many countries in Southern Europe are battling fires in the wake of a historic heat wave.

sicily wildfires near catania
Fire breaks out on Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy | Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Fire breaks out on Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy | Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A record-breaking heat wave is bringing Europe to its knees. Many countries across the continent are currently struggling with life-threatening conditions caused by wildfires devastating arid areas, which has led to evacuations and travel disruptions.

While some countries are experiencing more serious fire-related conditions than others, the overall number of those affected is still shockingly high. Wildfires have been spreading across select areas and islands in Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Croatia, and France.

Sicily, the Italian island on the country's southern side, is now battling with raging wildfires that are raising serious concerns among officials and the population alike. According to Euronews, on Tuesday alone, Italian firefighters tackled 650 fires in Sicily, which, according to local media, were spread across Palermo, Catania, and Messina and neighboring areas. Residents and tourists were forced to evacuate numerous towns and vacation spots across the island and due to a nearby fire, the Palermo airport had to close early on Tuesday, though it has now reopened.

The Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu are being devastated by wildfires as well, and fires have ignited on the mainland and on the island of Evia. As of July 24, there were 82 active fires across Greece, and 64 of them started on July 23, NASA reports. According to The Independent, an estimated 19,000 people have been evacuated from areas affected by the fires, including 2,500 from Corfu.

Greek and Italian tourism officials are currently downplaying the wildfires, according to Politico Pro, and are encouraging visitors to move ahead with their vacation plans.

While the wildfire situation isn't covering as much area as what Greece and Italy are currently facing, other European countries are currently fighting against wildfires and their disrupting consequences as well.

As The Independent reports, firefighters have been tackling wildfires close to France's Nice Airport as well as near the city of Arles. Spain is witnessing fires in Gran Canaria, where tall blazes led to the evacuation of hundreds of people. Neighboring Portugal is also addressing the wildfire issue, and firefighters have been battling against a large blaze near the tourist-friendly coastal area of Cascais. In Croatia, fires have been reported in the south of the country, while yesterday Turkish firefighters faced a wildfire near Kemer, located in the southern province of Antalya, Reuters reports.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.