1. #1
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    Post International Fire News

    July 22nd

    Firefighters battle blazes from Adriatic to Siberia
    MOSCOW, July 22 (Reuters) - Firefighters are tackling blazes
    across Europe and Russia's Far East as a prolonged heatwave and
    some of the highest temperatures on record dry forests and
    grassland from the Adriatic to Siberia.
    In Russia, emergency ministry officials said firefighters
    were trying to douse around 518 separate forest fires across the
    vast country.
    In Portugal, firefighters finally put out a blaze which
    ravaged 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of pine forest north of
    the capital, Lisbon, after battling to control the inferno since
    Saturday.
    As a precaution Poland banned access to 40 percent of its
    forests.
    The German government was considering action to support
    farmers who in parts of the country were facing what one
    agricultural leader described as desert conditions.
    "It's becoming a disaster for German agriculture," a German
    farmers' federation leader Gerd Sonnleitner. "We've almost got a
    desert with the climate in Brandenburg at present. It's Mexico,
    it's Siberia."
    The drought had hit 3.5 million hectares of grain fields,
    mainly in eastern and southern Germany, causing millions of
    euros of damage, he said. Other crops affected were maize,
    potatoes and turnips.
    The German office for marine, shipping and hydrography said
    water temperatures in the North Sea were recording the longest
    and most intensive phase of warmth in 130 years.
    TRANSPORT DISRUPTED
    In Russia, forest fires raged across nearly 200,000 hectares
    (440,000 acres), mostly in the Far East, according to
    Emergencies Ministry figures.
    "It is bad, it is very bad, but our people are out fighting
    the fires," said an emergencies ministry spokesman.
    The fires disrupted transport in many areas. The airport of
    Anadyr -- the Arctic hometown of new Chelsea football club owner
    Roman Abramovich -- was closed as thick smoke from a forest fire
    blanketed runways.
    Firefighters in Bosnia, unable to reach some fires in more
    mountainous areas, attempted to snuff out a blaze around the
    southeastern town of Trebinje, Bosnian radio reported.
    Vineyards around the Balkan country's only coastal town of
    Neum were destroyed in a fire on Monday while temperatures on
    Tuesday reached 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
    Italy, which has suffered power cuts due to demands on
    electricity supplies due to the heat, took the unusual action of
    opening up the gates of Alpine reservoirs to pump water into the
    arid Po River in the north.
    Weather forecasters warned temperatures could climb further
    in the next few days and hit 40C (104F) in Florence, Sardinia
    and in the southern toe of the peninsula.

    Reut09:02 07-22-03
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    Post At least 3 dead

    TOULON, France (AP) - Forest fires that may have been
    deliberately set crunched through the Riviera on Tuesday, killing
    at least three people, devastating the scenic backwoods and forcing
    the evacuation of thousands of people.
    Firefighters speculated that the fires - some 30 that broke out
    nearly simultaneously on Monday - were criminal in origin.
    Firefighters found Molotov cocktails in the region, according to
    radio and television reports.
    The mayor of Roquebrune-Sur-Argens, Luc Jousse, called the
    blazes "a new form of terrorism."
    Firefighters and equipment were being sent from elsewhere in
    France, and even from Italy, to back up the approximately 1,500
    firefighters who worked through the night. Some 100 extra soldiers
    also were sent to help 300 troops already in place.
    At least three people were killed. France Info reported reported
    that two of the dead were British. No precise information on
    identities or the circumstances of the deaths were immediately
    available.
    Fires raged through some of the most prized vacation areas in
    the Var region, concentrated in the area around Frejus.
    "It's the apocalypse," Jousse, the mayor of
    Roquebrune-Sur-Argens, said on LCI television. He said that in his
    sector alone more than 10,000 people were evacuated.
    "I think we've understood that these fires are a new form of
    terrorism," Jousse said. "They are all deliberate."
    President Jacques Chirac, in Papeete, Tahiti, promised that
    "the guilty will be sought out with extreme rigor" and
    "sanctions will be of an extraordinary severity."
    At least seven campsites packed with vacationers were evacuated
    near Sainte-Maxime and 11 others near Frejus.
    Electricity was briefly cut overnight in the Golf of St. Tropez,
    and numerous roads were closed to traffic.
    A fire in the same area just over a week ago burned some 10,000
    hectares (24,710 acres) of the Massif des Maures.
    The latest fire raged through some 8,000 hectares (19,770)
    additional hectares with no sign Tuesday morning of being
    contained.
    (parf-eg)

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    Post 7/29

    SAINTE-MAXIME, France (AP) - Forest fires swept through the
    French Riviera on Tuesday, killing at least three people,
    devastating scenic woods and forcing the evacuation of thousands of
    people from prized vacation areas.
    Firefighters speculated that the fires - some 30 that broke out
    nearly simultaneously on Monday - were caused by arson. Molotov
    cocktails were found in the region, according to radio and
    television reports.
    The mayor of Roquebrune-Sur-Argens, Luc Jousse, called the fires
    "a new form of terrorism."
    The blazes were described as the worst ever in the Var region,
    an area thick with Mediterranean pine trees and picturesque bays
    that is a magnet for tourists. The fires were located between
    Toulon and Nice.
    Three women - two British and one Dutch - were killed by the
    blazes, according to Col. Jacques Baudot, the Var fire chief.
    The British women had apparently been trying to escape by car
    when they were caught by the flames around La Garde-Freinet, he
    said. The Dutch woman died while being transferred to a hospital by
    helicopter from Sainte-Maxime. Their identities were not made
    public.
    Firefighters and equipment were sent from elsewhere in France,
    and even from Italy, to back up the approximately 1,500
    firefighters who worked through the night. Some 100 extra soldiers
    also were sent to help 300 troops already in place.
    Fires raged through some of the most prized vacation areas in
    the Var region, concentrated in the areas around Frejus, 25 miles
    from Cannes and Sainte-Maxime, to the west.
    At least seven campsites packed with vacationers were evacuated
    near Sainte-Maxime and 11 others near Frejus.
    Electricity was briefly cut overnight in the Gulf of St. Tropez
    region - a playground for the rich and famous - and numerous roads
    were closed to traffic.
    "It's the apocalypse," Jousse, the mayor of
    Roquebrune-Sur-Argens, said on LCI television. He said that in his
    sector alone more than 10,000 people were evacuated.
    President Jacques Chirac, in Papeete, Tahiti, promised that
    "the guilty will be sought out with extreme rigor" and
    "sanctions will be of an extraordinary severity."
    A fire in the same area just over a week ago burned some 24,710
    acres of the Massif des Maures.
    The latest fire raged through an additional 19,770 acres with no
    sign Tuesday morning of being contained.

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    Post MORE........

    SAINTE-MAXIME, France, July 29 (Reuters) - Hundreds of
    firefighters battled on Tuesday to control raging forest fires
    that killed four tourists and destroyed vast tracts of woodland
    near France's southern Riviera coast.
    Local officials said they suspected arsonists were behind
    some 30 devastating blazes that shrouded the picturesque
    Provencal countryside in thick smoke and forced hundreds of
    holidaymakers to flee their villas and camp sites.
    "There has rarely been such a powerful blaze in the region,"
    said a spokesman for the regional emergency centre.
    There were scenes of panic as the flames engulfed caravans,
    cars and electricity poles, forcing people to ditch their
    vehicles by the side of the road. Some tourists were stranded
    wearing nothing but their swimming suits.
    The badly burnt corpses of two female holidaymakers from the
    British town of Wigan were found near the mountain village of La
    Garde-Freinet, according to a spokesman for the local government
    of the Var region.
    A Dutch woman and a Polish citizen had also been found dead,
    the official said.
    President Jacques Chirac, on an official visit to French
    Polynesia, promised harsh punishment for the culprits.
    "If some of the fires are of criminal origin -- and there is
    every reason to believe they are -- the culprits will be pursued
    with extreme severity," Chirac told a news conference.
    French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy visited the scene
    of what he described as an "ecological massacre," and Italy lent
    a helicopter to help the firefighters while reinforcements were
    also rushed to the region from northwestern France.
    Powerful Mistral winds were fanning the flames, which have
    destroyed more than 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of pinewood
    since the blazes started on Monday afternoon.
    Around 1,700 firemen backed by some 15 water-carrying planes
    and helicopters were fighting to control the fires, which
    stretched from the mountain town of Fayence to the coastal
    resort of Sainte-Maxime.
    The mayor of Frejus, Elie Brun, said he planned to file a
    criminal complaint, which will automatically trigger an
    investigation into the cause of the disaster. Firefighters had
    found Molotov cocktails at the scene of the fires, he said.
    "It is quite difficult to explain how in the space of three
    hours, you can have seven, eight, or ten different fires
    starting. It is obvious that there is a criminal cause," Brun
    told French television station LCI.
    Around 1,500 people were evacuated from Sainte-Maxime, where
    100 homes were destroyed. Close to 4,000 holidaymakers were
    forced to leave their camp sites nearby.
    Local officials were expecting 1,000 additional firefighters
    to arrive on Tuesday, including some from neighbouring Italy.
    REUTERS
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    Post Tuesday 7/29

    SAINTE-MAXIME, France (AP) - Forest fires swept through parts of
    the ritzy French Riviera for a second day Tuesday, devastating
    scenic woods and forcing thousands to be evacuated. At least four
    people have been killed.
    Authorities speculated that the blazes - some 30 broke out
    nearly simultaneously on Monday - were caused by arson. Molotov
    cocktails were found in the region, local officials said.
    The mayor of Roquebrune-Sur-Argens, Luc Jousse, called the fires
    "a new form of terrorism," although authorities were still
    investigating and had not definitely determined the cause.
    Firefighters met with some success battling the fires near the
    western portion of the French Riviera, but at least one re-erupted
    Tuesday east of Draguignan, about 30 miles from the fashionable
    resort of Cannes, which was untouched.
    Forest fires frequently devastate wide swaths of the Riviera
    backcountry during the summer. But these have been described as the
    worst in decades.
    Clouds of yellow and gray smoke blew across the skyline halfway
    between Toulon and Nice. The region is a magnet for tourists and a
    favorite of painters.
    About 60 homes were destroyed or damaged as flames burned across
    some 21,000 acres by Tuesday morning.
    Police in Draguignan said they had detained a 30-year-old
    municipal employee from the village of Figanieres who is suspected
    of having started several fires.
    Homes and campsites were abandoned as 20,000 people were
    evacuated, although many had returned by Tuesday afternoon.
    Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting the ravaged area,
    said a Russian helicopter that can carry 12 tons of fire retardant
    was being called in. Italy also was sending firefighters and
    vehicles to help, according to the Civil Defense Department in
    Rome. The defense ministry also sent in 600 soldiers to help some
    2,000 French firefighters.
    President Jacques Chirac, in Papeete, Tahiti, promised that
    "the guilty will be sought out with extreme rigor" and
    "sanctions will be of an extraordinary severity."
    Var fire chief Col. Jacques Baudot said authorities had not
    definitely concluded that arson was to blame. But he noted that 28
    fires were started Monday. "There is little probability that this
    is by chance," he said.
    A fire in the same area just over a week ago burned some 24,710
    acres of the Massif des Maures.

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    Post 7/30 AM Report

    French Riviera blazes stop spreading but burn on
    NICE, France, July 30 (Reuters) - Fires ravaging the hills
    along France's Riviera coast stopped spreading on Wednesday as
    winds fanning them calmed down, but firemen warned they still
    had to bring several large blazes under control.
    Fire-fighting planes and helicopters bombarded the charred
    hills with water, and exhausted firemen sprayed brush and trees
    to hold back the flames that have destroyed a large swathe of
    the Mediterranean resort region between Cannes and Toulon.
    Police stepped up the search for suspected arsonists thought
    to be responsible for the fires, which started at several
    different spots at once. President Jacques Chirac has pledged
    severe punishment for arsonists.
    "At the moment, the fire seems to be retreating, but it is
    not completely extinguished," Colonel Francis Mene told Reuters,
    referring to a large fire that restarted on Tuesday at La Motte.
    "But the signs are favourable," he added, speaking from the
    rescue operations command.
    The blazes have killed four tourists and destroyed more than
    8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of pine woods. It has taken around
    1,700 firefighters -- including units from neighbouring Italy --
    and 15 water-carrying planes and helicopters to control them.
    Local authorities suspect arsonists of being behind some 30
    devastating blazes that started late on Monday and shrouded the
    picturesque Provencal countryside in thick smoke, forcing
    thousands of holidaymakers to flee villas and camp sites.
    A suspected arsonist was due to be brought before a judge on
    Wednesday as officials warned pyromaniacs risked jail sentences
    of up to 30 years if fires they started took any lives. Even
    accidental fires could be punished by five years in prison.
    The burnt corpses of a teenage girl and her grandmother from
    the British town of Wigan were found near their burnt out car,
    just 100 metres (yards) away from their intact holiday home in
    the mountain village of La Garde-Freinet on Tuesday. A Dutch
    woman and a Polish man were also found dead.
    There were scenes of panic on Tuesday as the flames, fanned
    by heavy winds, engulfed caravans, cars and electricity poles,
    forcing people to ditch their vehicles by the roadside. Some
    tourists were stranded, wearing nothing but swimming suits.
    "If some of the fires are of criminal origin -- and there is
    every reason to believe they are -- the culprits will be pursued
    with extreme severity," Chirac told a news conference.
    The region has already seen three outbreaks of forest fires
    this month, favoured by exceptionally dry and sunny weather.
    A separate blaze on Monday on the nearby Mediterranean
    island of Corsica killed one man.

    Reut04:23 07-30-03
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    Post 7/30

    By JAMEY KEATEN
    Associated Press Writer
    SAINTE-MAXIME, France (AP) - Stunned vacationers sorted through
    their blackened belongings while firefighters battled to contain
    the last of nearly 30 forest fires that tore through the foothills
    of the French Riviera this week. Officials said that they suspect
    arson.
    The blazes, fueled by parched undergrowth, transformed the
    picturesque and touristic region between Toulon and Nice into an
    ashen moonscape dotted with tree stumps.
    Weary fire crews were concentrating on a remaining blaze moving
    through the craggy, brush-covered hills east of Draguignan, about
    45 kilometers (25 miles) from the fashionable resort of Cannes.
    Heat, wind and jagged terrain made for a tough fight Wednesday
    against the flames in an area where some 28 separate,
    near-simultaneous fires broke out two days earlier, and
    firefighters warned that further fires could erupt if a three-month
    dry spell continued, part of a drought stretching as far as
    northeast Italy.
    "This area is a tinder box of dried vegetation," Col. Eric
    Martin of the regional Var rescue squad, adding that the flames
    were advancing at 4 kph (2.5 mph) and his men were suffering from
    dehydration.
    Fires also were reported elsewhere in southern France, the
    Mediterranean island of Corsica and Portugal. Near
    Salon-de-Provence, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the
    port city of Marseille, nine firefighters were injured.
    Up to 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of land have gone up in
    flames since the start of the Riviera infernos, making them the
    worst in a generation, fire officials said. Scores of homes have
    been damaged or destroyed, some 20,000 people temporarily evacuated
    and four people were killed.
    Officials said that they were looking into arson as a possible
    cause of the blazes after soft drink bottles made into Molotov
    cocktails were found scattered in the region.
    On Wednesday, regional prosecutors were questioning two suspects
    who had displayed "bizarre behavior" in the area, said state
    prosecutor Michel Raffin.
    Meanwhile, Stephane Jousse, 29, of Figanieres, was under
    investigation for setting nine fires in the area earlier this year
    but is not suspected in this week's blazes, Raffin said.
    He said Jousse has admitted to having the urge to set fires.
    Jousse faces 10 years in prison and a euro150,000-euro (US$170,000)
    fine if convicted.
    Elsewhere, Pierre Giolitto, a 71-year-old historian and author,
    returned to his villa in the posh French resort village of Les
    Issambres to find his street lined with smoldering fires.
    His roof collapsed, water pipes burst and the second floor was a
    heap of broken terra cotta tiles, but Giolitto said the worst part
    was the damage to his rare book collection and his computer, which
    held the only copy of a 500-page manuscript that he had nearly
    finished.
    "Even talking about it makes me come to tears," he said, on
    the verge of crying. "This home has been the work of my life - I
    put my whole life into it."

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    Post

    DRAGUIGNAN, France (Reuters) - A 29-year-old man admitted
    Wednesday to starting some of the forest fires that have torn
    through the French Riviera and killed four tourists, saying he
    was furious at being rejected as a voluntary fireman.
    Stephane Jousse, who has been placed under formal
    investigation and risks up to 10 years in prison if charged,
    said he acted "out of spite" when he started seven fires this
    month, public prosecutor Michel Raffin said.
    Some 30 fires broke out Monday, shrouding the picturesque
    Provencal countryside in thick smoke and forcing thousands of
    vacationers to flee villas and campsites. After 48 hours,
    hundreds of firefighters were still battling blazes at La
    Motte, inland from the Cote d'Azur resort of St. Tropez.
    In central Portugal, more than 500 firefighters and 300
    soldiers were battling for the third day to contain the latest
    in a wave of forest fires while scores of Croatian firefighters
    struggled to contain blazes along the tourist coast of the
    Adriatic.
    Portuguese authorities said flames had killed a 60-year-old
    man near Fundao, 140 miles northeast of Lisbon.
    Most of the fires ravaging France's picture-postcard
    Riviera forests stopped spreading as winds eased, but new
    blazes broke out near Aix-en-Provence during the afternoon,
    sending dark smoke billowing up into the sky.
    Some of the thousands of evacuees returned Wednesday to
    discover their holiday cottages reduced to burnt-out shells and
    the once-green countryside looking like a moonscape.

    THICK SMOKE
    The fires have stirred up strong feelings in France, and
    President Jacques Chirac made a pledge from French Polynesia
    that any arsonists would be severely punished.
    Jousse was arrested near Nice with a lit cigarette lighter
    in his hand. Passers-by had called police to report that he was
    behaving oddly at the scene of a blaze that destroyed 40
    hectares of woodland near his home village of Figanieres.
    He admitted to starting five fires in Draguignan, one in
    Figanieres, one in La Motte and two at Callas using matches or
    a lighter to set fire to twigs by the roadside late in the
    evening. He also said he started two fires a year ago.
    Jousse, a local council employee, was set to be placed in
    detention later Wednesday. His lawyer described him as
    "psychologically fragile" and "intellectually limited."
    Local officials warned that pyromaniacs risked jail
    sentences of up to 30 years if fires they started took any
    lives. Even accidental fires can be punished by five years in
    prison.
    As fire-fighting aircraft bombarded the scorched hills with
    water, police investigators spent Wednesday testing samples of
    taken from charred woodland for traces of petrol.
    This week's blazes killed four tourists, destroyed more
    than 20,000 acres of pine woods and took some 1,700
    firefighters and 15 water-carrying aircraft to control them.
    The charred corpses of a British teen-ager and her
    grandmother were found Tuesday near their burnt out car, just
    100 yards from their intact chalet in the fire-razed village of
    La Garde-Freinet. A Dutch woman and a Polish man also died.
    The region has already seen three outbreaks of forest fires
    this month, after exceptionally dry and sunny weather turned
    the scrub-filled woodlands into a virtual tinderbox. A separate
    blaze on the Mediterranean island of Corsica killed one man.
    In Croatia, a number of blazes raged near popular tourist
    destinations in the south of the country, devouring hundreds of
    acres of pine forest and olive groves.
    REUTERS
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    Post 7/31

    By JAMEY KEATEN
    Associated Press Writer
    SAINTE-MAXIME, France (AP) - A hail storm and falling winds
    Thursday helped firefighters bring the worst of the blazes that
    have ravaged the French Riviera under control, officials said.
    Winds dropped to about 5 mph despite earlier forecasts of
    violent gusts, easing fears that smoldering embers left by this
    week's fires in the Var region would re-ignite.
    Nearly 1,000 firefighters from across France, Spain and Greece
    were drafted in to relieve their exhausted colleagues, many of whom
    have been battling the flames around the clock since Monday.
    Thousands of acres of pine forests and scrubland have been
    scorched. The risk of further fires, however, still remains
    "severe" Friday, Frances's Civil Security unit said.
    Many roads bordering forests remain closed to the public while
    dozens of police patrols have been deployed to thwart possible
    arsonists. Police suspect the fires were deliberately set.
    A hail storm lasting one and a half hours thankfully moistened a
    region that has been stricken by drought over the last two months,
    said local firefighter spokesman Florian Denan. "Humidity levels
    have greatly increased," he said.
    Investigators, meanwhile, kept up a search for arsonists after
    the discovery of three Molotov cocktails near one of the Riviera
    fires.
    Four foreign tourists - two British, a Dutch and a Polish
    citizen - were killed in the blazes that officials say were the
    worst in decades.
    One man has been placed under investigation for allegedly
    setting seven fires in the region since July 5, but Draguignan
    Deputy Prosecutor Michel Raffin said he was not a suspect in this
    week's fires.
    Stephane Jousse, 29, of Figanieres, was arrested hours before
    Monday's blazes erupted, "which would have made his participating
    in the three major fires impossible," Raffin said.
    Authorities were preparing to interrogate other suspects, Raffin
    added, without giving details. Two people taken in for questioning
    on Wednesday have been released, he said.
    President Jacques Chirac has vowed to punish any possible
    perpetrators behind the forest fires.
    The fires have left a swath of blackened moonscape across the
    craggy, brush-covered hills in the tourist-filled area of the
    Mediterranean coast.

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    Post 7/31

    ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - Firefighters, villagers and even tourists
    struggled Thursday to extinguish wildfires which destroyed 2,300
    hectares (5,700 acres) of forests, olive groves and fields in a
    national park and at least three islands in southern Croatia.
    The fires broke out early Tuesday on Velebit Mountain in central
    Croatia, destroying rare plants in a park listed by UNESCO as a
    natural heritage site. Hundreds of firefighters were battling the
    blaze but were hampered by winds and temperatures hitting 33
    degrees Celsius (91.4 Fahrenheit).
    On the southern island of Bisevo, firefighters failed to save
    two empty homes in wildfires that began Wednesday. About 300
    hectares (740 acres) of pine trees - half of the island's wooded
    area - have been destroyed.
    On two other islands, Hvar and Brac, firefighters frantically
    fought wildfires while villagers and tourists tried to help,
    throwing buckets of water on flames fanned by tinder-dry brush.
    Villages and tourist resorts were threatened.
    The country's five firefighting planes flew around the clock,
    dumping water on the flames.
    Interior Minister Sime Lucin described the fires as arson. At
    least two people were in custody.
    Meanwhile, in neighboring Slovenia, about 500 firefighters were
    fighting the biggest fire in the past 10 years in the Slovenski
    Kras area, near the Italian border. The fire, which had apparently
    leapt from across the border, swept through dry, uninhabited
    terrain.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post August 3rd-Portugal Fires death toll at 6

    LISBON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Three more people have died in a
    wave of forest fires in central Portugal, bringing to six the
    number killed in the past week in the country's worst blazes for
    two decades, officials said on Sunday.
    Commander Antonio Roaldinho, duty officer at the National
    Rescue Operations Centre, said the bodies of two women were
    found in Chamusca, which is about 100 km (62 miles) northeast of
    Lisbon and whose name means "singeing" in Portuguese.
    A man of 50 was overcome by flames as he tried to escape by
    tractor from a fire near Ponte de Sor, 100 km east of Lisbon.
    Three people died last week in blazes that have spread in
    unusually hot, dry weather with strong winds fanning the flames.
    A fireman also died when a water-carrying truck in which he
    was travelling crashed near Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, 300 km
    (187 miles) northeast of the capital.
    More than 2,800 firefighters and 400 soldiers are fighting
    dozens of blazes. They are equipped with 500 vehicles and water
    bombing planes sent by Italy and Morocco in response to an
    international appeal for help by the Portuguese government.
    Just over the border in southwestern Spain, helicopters and
    fire-fighting planes battled forest fires in a record-breaking
    heatwave that has killed seven in the country.
    Roaldinho said emergency workers were desperate to prevent
    fires sweeping through several Portuguese towns, including
    Macao, about 120 km northeast of Lisbon.
    Eyewitnesses reported that several houses had burned down in
    Macao and residents were carrying buckets of water to help
    firefighters battle the blaze street by street.
    One blaze, extinguished on Friday after three days, burned
    down more than 11,000 hectares of mostly pinewood forest in the
    biggest fire tallied by the government in 15 years.
    Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso told state radio he
    had called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for Monday aimed at
    limiting damage from Portugal's worst fires in 20 years.
    The Forestry Department said apart from releasing huge
    amounts of greenhouse gas, the destruction of forests that cover
    about a third of Portugal made the country more prone to
    desertification.

    Reut12:25 08-03-03
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    Post Spain

    Helicopters battle Spanish fires, heatwave kills 7
    MADRID, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Helicopters and fire-fighting
    planes battled forest fires in southern Spain on Sunday as the
    death toll from a record-breaking heatwave rose to seven.
    The worst fires blazed in the southwestern region of
    Extremadura, near the border with Portugal where a spate of
    forest fires has claimed six lives.
    Temperatures were well above 40 degrees Celsius (104
    Fahrenheit) in southern Spain on Sunday and high winds fanned
    the flames.
    Some 500 people have been evacuated from their homes in
    Extremadura, a sparsely populated, rural area.
    "There are three fires still active, of which two are under
    control," a spokesman for the regional government said.
    It was not immediately clear how much forest was affected.
    RNE state radio cited health authorities in the southern
    region of Andalucia as saying seven people had died since
    Thursday of heat-related illnesses and 12 were in hospital.
    Health officials said cases of heat stroke had risen 10
    percent year-on-year as temperatures in some southern cities
    topped 46 degrees (115 Fahrenheit), according to RNE.
    In the last few days several towns, mostly in Andalucia,
    have recorded their highest temperatures since records began.
    REUTERS
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    Post Portugal 8/4

    LISBON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Portugal declared a national
    disaster on Monday due to forest fires that have killed nine
    people in the last week as a heatwave fanned blazes across
    Europe.
    The fires in Portugal, the worst in a generation, have
    flared amid a heatwave stretching from Russia to the Iberian
    Peninsula and Britain's Atlantic coast.
    The heat has killed at least 12 people in Spain and Germany
    and threatens to break national temperature records in France
    and Britain.
    Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said the
    declaration of a national disaster, approved by the cabinet on
    Monday, would make more than 100 million euros ($113 million)
    available in disaster aid.
    "The situation the country is facing is exceptional, caused
    by absolutely exceptional climatic conditions," he said. "That
    is why we have to act with exceptional measures."
    Durao Barroso said Portugal would also seek disaster relief
    funding from the European Union.
    The heatwave was due to a mass of hot, dry air from the
    southeast, said Mario Almeida, a spokesman at Portugal's weather
    service.
    "Temperatures are certainly unusual and the highest for some
    years, but it is too early to say whether they are due to
    climate change," he said.
    Fires in Spain's Extremadura region, which borders Portugal,
    and the province of Avila forced hundreds of people to evacuate
    their homes.
    In Spain's southern region of Andalucia, seven people have
    died from the heatwave since Thursday, a spokeswoman for the
    regional health service said. Most were elderly.
    HEAT KILLS FIVE IN GERMAN TOWN
    Temperatures in the high 30s Centigrade (upper 90s F) caused
    five deaths in the northern German town of Holzminden over the
    weekend.
    Construction work on a soccer stadium in Munich was halted
    on Monday because engineers feared temperatures reaching 36 C
    (96.8 F) could cause cracks in the structure.
    In the eastern state of Brandenburg, about 30 hectares (74
    acres) of forest were ablaze 60 km (37 miles) south of Berlin,
    forcing closure of a national road.
    In France, a spokeswoman for the state weather office said
    temperatures this week were expected to near the national record
    of 44 C (111.2 F) set in 1923. In Britain, temperatures
    threatened to top the 37.1 C (98.8 F) all-time high.
    Authorities in southern France have limited water use and
    there were fears of rising air pollution levels. Many parts of
    Switzerland have banned open fires for fear of forest fires.
    Britain's rail network slapped speed restrictions on a wide
    range of lines due to risk of rails buckling and warned of
    extended journey times.
    Speed limits were cut to 60 miles per hour (100 km) from the
    more usual 90 or 120 miles per hour and could go even lower.
    Some 431 fires were raging in Russia. Heavy rain has tamed
    blazes that devastated swathes of Siberia and the Russian Far
    East.
    Firefighters in Croatia battled fires on the Adriatic
    islands of Brac, Hvar and Bisevo, where temperatures reached 37
    C (98.6 F). Blazes have burned an estimated 5,000 to 6,000
    hectares (12,500 to 15,000 acres) of pine forests, olive groves
    and scrubland in southern Croatia since last week.
    SMOKE SHROUDS PORTUGAL
    Smoke from the fires in Portugal's central mountain areas
    have shrouded much of the Indiana-sized nation and limited the
    use of water-bombing aircraft.
    More than 2,300 firefighters, mostly volunteers, were
    tackling 72 blazes in Portugal, which is about one-third forest.
    Weary firefighters in Semideiro, a town of 1,500 people
    about 100 km (65 miles) northeast of Lisbon, battled to keep
    flames from a blazing pine forest away from houses. With
    afternoon temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees
    Fahrenheit), they hoped a southern wind would hold.
    "If the wind shifts from the south and changes to the north
    there could be a tragedy, since many towns are at risk,"
    firefighter Manuel Policarpo told Reuters.
    "Today the planes came, which were a big help," Celestiana
    Antunes, a Semideiro resident in her 60s, said as she surveyed
    the burned pine stand surrounding her house.
    "It's too bad they didn't come sooner," she added.
    The national Forestry Commission estimated 54,000 hectares
    (135,000 acres) had burned in the most recent wave of fires
    which began last week. The figure is slightly more than twice
    the amount destroyed by fire for the year to July 27.
    A spokesman for the National Rescue Operations Centre said
    nine people had died in the past week. Eight were overcome by
    flames and a firefighter was killed when a fire truck crashed.
    (Additional reporting by Tobias Matthies in Berlin, Dan Trotta
    in Madrid and by Zurich, Moscow, Helsinki, Paris, Berlin and
    Zagreb newsrooms)

    Reut14:20 08-04-03
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    Post

    LISBON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Portugal's worst forest fires in a
    generation have killed two more people, bringing the death toll
    to 11 in a week, authorities said on Tuesday.
    A 62-year-old man was found dead with signs of having been
    overcome by fumes, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, and the
    charred body of an elderly woman was found in Oleiros, 170 kms
    (105 miles) northeast of Lisbon.
    Commander Antonio Gualdino, duty officer at the National
    Rescue Operations Centre, confirmed the two deaths but had no
    details.
    About 3,400 firefighters and soldiers had worked through the
    night to take advantage of a drop in temperatures to combat
    fires, many of which have raged for days.
    "Weather conditions were favourable last night and we
    managed to put some fires out, but temperatures will climb again
    today to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the
    wind is beginning to blow from the east, which will certainly
    complicate matters," he said.
    Portugal declared national disaster on Monday and made more
    than 100 million euros ($113.6 million) available to victims of
    the blazes.
    In the past week some 54,000 hectares (135,000 acres) of
    woodland have been destroyed by fires, according to a
    preliminary estimate by the Forestry Commission.
    About one-third of Portugal is covered by forest and fires
    have spread in woods dried out by weeks of drought as high
    temperatures and strong winds have fanned the flames.

    Reut04:38 08-05-03
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    Post August 5th

    LISBON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Forest fires burned across Europe
    on Tuesday, with the death toll from blazes in Portugal hitting
    11 and France facing a potential "volcano" amid a heat wave
    gripping the continent.
    The high temperatures strained power supplies in Italy and
    chimpanzees in the Amsterdam zoo were getting iced fruit to stay
    cool. The heat has fanned forest fires from Poland to the
    Iberian Peninsula, with Portugal's fires so extensive they can
    be seen in satellite photos.
    Portugal's Lusa news agency said the bodies of a 62-year-old
    man and an elderly woman were found near Oleiros, a town about
    170 km (105 miles) northeast of Lisbon near the centre of the
    fires. The man had signs of smoke poisoning and the woman was
    burned.
    The deaths raise the number killed to 11 since the latest
    spate of fires started at the beginning of last week, while in
    Spain and Germany 12 have died in the heat wave. Portugal
    declared a national disaster on Monday because of the fires.
    About 3,400 firefighters and soldiers worked through the
    night to take advantage of a drop in temperatures, a spokesman
    for Portugal's National Rescue Operations Centre said.
    "Weather conditions were favourable last night and we
    managed to put some fires out," he said. But daytime
    temperatures nearing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)
    and a wind coming from the east could hinder firefighting
    efforts, he said.
    The Portuguese weather service has said Europe's hot spell
    was caused by a mass of hot, dry air moving from the southeast.
    FRENCH "VOLCANO"
    With temperatures nearing records in many parts of France,
    hundreds of firefighters struggled to contain a forest fire near
    the picturesque Gorges du Tarn in the south of the country.
    "We're sitting on a volcano which could light up anywhere at
    any moment," Jean Schmidt, a spokesman for the fire service in
    the Lozere region, told LCI TV. "The danger is everywhere."
    In Paris, people thronged the banks of the Seine River that
    have been turned into an urban beach with sand, cafes, deck
    chairs and palm trees. The temperature in the capital was
    expected to near 40 C (104 F) again on Tuesday.
    The Amsterdam zoo was giving its chimpanzees iced fruit and
    spraying ostriches with cold water to keep them cool as
    temperatures in the Dutch capital edged towards 30 C (86 F),
    Dutch news agency ANP reported.
    Italy's national electricity grid said it had cut power to
    some big industrial customers amid soaring demand. Italy has
    suffered from power outages in recent weeks and has imported
    power from France, Switzerland and Slovenia.
    German firefighters had largely put out blazes in the
    eastern state of Brandenburg by early Tuesday. However,
    authorities barred people from entering forests in parts of
    Brandenburg to lessen the risk of fire.
    Temperatures in Germany were expected to reach 38 or 39 C
    (100.4 or 102.2 F), close to the record of 40.2 C (104.4 F) set
    in 1983.
    Polish fire crews battled 35 forest fires on Monday and
    about a quarter of its woodlands were at serious risk of fire
    after temperatures topped 30 C (86 F) for much of July,
    authorities said.
    In southern Bosnia, mines left over from Bosnia's 1992-95
    war have barred firefighters from coming to grips with a
    three-day-old fire near Mostar.

    Reut07:12 08-05-03
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    Post 8/6

    ROME (AP) - Roadways buckled under the scorching sun in Germany,
    water levels on the Danube and other rivers dropped and wildfires
    forced tourists and residents to flee Wednesday as record-breaking
    heat, blamed for at least 37 deaths, tormented Europe.
    Londoners experienced the hottest day in the city's history when
    the temperature hit 95.7 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the 95 degrees
    recorded in 1990.
    The day's high in Paris - 103 degrees - fell just shy of the
    record 104.7 set in 1947.
    "One can safely say that this is one of the hottest summers of
    the last 50 years," said Capt. Alessandro Fuccello, of the Italian
    air force's meteorology office.
    He was speaking about Italy, but the heat wave was the hottest
    in recent memory in much of Europe.
    Fuccello blamed the heat wave on a high-pressure area sitting
    over southern Europe for 2½ months.
    Experts from Italy's state-funded CNR research center said the
    heat wave was among the five worst in the past 150 years. They
    linked the combination of exceptional heat and drought to intense
    monsoon activity in Africa and said the situation would likely last
    until September.
    Air conditioning is uncommon in much of northern Europe because
    it doesn't usually get so hot and it's discouraged in the south,
    where temperatures are often warmer, because of high energy costs.
    A few hotels in Frankfurt were slashing rates to offer an
    air-conditioned break to city residents struggling with sleepless
    nights.
    Suffocatingly hot air and high temperatures helped fuel brush
    and forest fires from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
    Exhausted firefighters were battling Portugal's worst wildfires
    in recent memory. The discovery of two bodies in a charred forest
    190 miles northeast of Lisbon brought the death toll in that
    country to at least 14.
    "They were cornered by fire" on Tuesday, said Antonio
    Gualdino, spokesman for Portugal's National Fire Coordination
    Center.
    Two people in southern Spain died of heat stroke, raising the
    death toll to 14 in the heat wave stifling much of the country.
    Among the deaths was a firefighter who had a heart attack Tuesday
    after battling a blaze.
    Forest fires fanned by hot winds near the French Riviera last
    week killed four people, and a fifth person died in Corsica when he
    tried to put out a fire near his home.
    On the Tuscan island of Elba and in Tuscany itself, scores of
    people were evacuated from homes and vacation spots as firefighters
    battled blazes with the aid of water-spraying planes and
    helicopters.
    Italian news reports reported that authorities had questioned a
    16-year-old boy suspected of possible arson in brush fire along
    part of Tuscany's coast.
    No injuries were reported in the estimated 16 fires raging in
    Italy, which broke out Tuesday night, said civil defense spokesman
    Luca Spoletini.
    Greek firefighters, aided by aircraft, extinguished a forest
    fire despite strong gales Wednesday on Salamis, a tiny island in
    the Saronic Gulf near Athens. Fire chief Panayiotis Fourlas said he
    was certain the cause was arson.
    Two deaths were linked to the heat in Britain and two more in
    Croatia, officials said.
    Trying to escape the heat wave was getting harder.
    In Lower Saxony, Germany, authorities were forced to forbid
    swimming in some of the lakes after high temperatures triggered a
    dangerous increase in algae counts.
    A stretch of highway near the southwestern German city of Worms
    swelled as high as a yard in some places.
    The stretch of Danube river passing through the Balkans dropped
    so low that wrecks of World War II boats became visible.
    Environmentalists warned that aquatic life could be destroyed in a
    few days because of a dramatic drop in oxygen levels.
    The hot weather was also forcing a British Airways Concorde jet
    to make an unscheduled refueling stop in Gander, Canada, during a
    flight from London to New York because it uses more fuel during hot
    weather, officials said.
    Rail service across Britain was also affected. For a third day,
    officials limited train speeds to 60 mph - down from 110 mph -
    because of the fears the tracks could buckle.
    Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute predicted it could
    reach 104 degrees Thursday - the highest temperature it has ever
    forecast since its founding in 1833 - and several rivers were
    declared off-limits to kayakers because of low water levels.
    In Florence, where the temperature was hovering around 104,
    Yvonne Mitton, who was vacationing from Worthing, England, said she
    tried to avoid the hottest hours.
    "We come out early in the morning, then we go back to the villa
    and then we come out again at night," she said. "It is absolutely
    beautiful and we are not going to miss it. I don't care how hot we
    get."
    Animals also were suffering. In Birmingham, England, the
    National Sea Life Centre sent a refrigerated van to an indoor ski
    center for a supply of snow to help its otters stay cool.

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    Post

    ROME (AP) - Rivers and ponds were drying up, while wildfires
    blazed in several countries as Europe staggered through a deadly
    heat wave forecast to last until September.
    The death toll from the heat and flames stood at 37 Wednesday
    night.
    Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute predicted the
    temperature could reach 104 on Thursday - the highest it has ever
    forecast since its founding in 1833.
    Records have been broken in several French cities and on
    Wednesday, London registered its highest-temperature ever - 95.7.
    Two deaths were linked to the heat in Britain, officials said.
    Wildfires, fanned by hot winds, were reported in Croatia,
    Greece, Spain, Portugal and France.
    The discovery of two bodies in a charred forest 190 miles
    northeast of Lisbon brought the death toll in that country to at
    least 14. Two others died in Croatia.
    Forest fires fanned by hot winds near the French Riviera last
    week killed four people, and a fifth person died in Corsica when he
    tried to put out a fire near his home.
    With air conditioning uncommon in much of Europe, natives and
    tourists alike struggled to find ways to cope.
    On the Croatian island of Pag, residents were banned from
    washing cars, watering gardens or taking showers at beaches.
    In Amsterdam, about a hundred soccer fans in a crowd of 47,000
    Ajax boosters who came to a kind of open-house day Wednesday
    received first aid after feeling sick, dehydrated or overheated.
    A British Airways Concorde was forced to make an unscheduled
    stop Wednesday in Gander, Canada, because hot air, with its higher
    pressure, meant more fuel was needed.
    A highway swelled in Germany, and trains were moving slower the
    last few days in Britain for fear the tracks might buckle.
    Experts from Italy's state-funded CNR research center said the
    heat wave was among the five worst in the last 150 years and would
    likely last until September.
    Europe was hit more by "hot air from northern Africa than by
    the usual weather patterns that come in from the Atlantic," said
    Capt. Alessandro Fuccello, from the Italian air force's meteorology
    office in Rome.
    Intense monsoon activity south of the Sahara also was blamed.
    A high-pressure system has been hanging over southern Europe for
    2½ months.
    Spanish TV and radio broadcasts were urging people to drink lots
    of water, limit exercise outdoors and wear loose-fitting clothing.
    Two people in southern Spain died of heat stroke, raising the
    death toll to 14. Among the deaths was a firefighter who had a
    heart attack Tuesday after battling a blaze.
    A hospital in eastern Belgium was giving patients free ice cream
    twice a day, but kayaking was banned on several rivers because the
    level was too low.
    The stretch of Danube passing through the Balkans dropped so low
    that wrecks of World War II boats became visible.
    Animals were suffering, too.
    Tons of fish died in Croatia's fish ponds. In Birmingham,
    England, the National Sea Life Centre sent a refrigerated van to an
    indoor ski center for snow to help otters stay cool, and handlers
    at the London Zoo gave bears iced snacks.
    Waves of hot air in Rome's largely deserted downtown made an
    afternoon stroll feel more like a trek through the desert.
    "We could stay at home in this terrible heat, but we prefer to
    get out and be outside," said Simone Bacci, an 18-year-old Roman
    who pedaled a rented ricksaw-like bicycle with friends.
    Federico Abbett, 25, was walking with other seminarians, all
    dressed in black, near the Pantheon.
    "We're used to dressing in this garb, even when the temperature
    is so high. We drink a lot and we try to walk on the shady side of
    the street," said Abbett.
    Robert Wood, an English tourist, said he was surviving by
    dashing back to his hotel room for frequent showers.
    In an odd twist, Athens, notorious for almost unbearable summer
    heat, was being cooled by fierce northerly gusts known locally as
    the "meltemia," causing some to even wear long sleeves at night.

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    Post August 7th

    CASTELO BRANCO, Portugal, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Portuguese
    firefighters put out some of the forest fires that have killed
    14 people in a week as temperatures fell overnight but thousands
    were still working on Thursday to prevent more blazes.
    Commander Nuno Santos, duty officer at the National Rescue
    Operations Centre, reported two fires out of control and said
    more than 2,500 firefighters and soldiers were combating the
    blazes and burying smouldering remains to be seen in much of
    central Portugal.
    "No lives are under threat at the moment, as the two fires
    are in uninhabited areas," Santos said.
    But temperatures were again forecast to rise to nearly 40
    degrees Celsius later in the day, putting at risk tinder-dry
    forests in a heatwave that has fannned blazes throughout Europe.
    Portugal's Forestry Commission estimated that about 100,000
    hectares (250,000 acres) of woodlands, or about three percent of
    forested area, had burned since the start of last week.
    The tally is about four times the area recorded for the year
    to July 27.
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    Post Fires Continue 8/7/03

    MADRID, Spain (AP) - The heat wave sweeping much of Spain has
    killed two women on Thursday, bringing to rising to 16 the number
    of fatalities in the country, officials said Thursday.
    A 89-year-old woman, who had a heart condition, died at her home
    in the town of Casas de Millan. The other victim was a 76-year-old
    woman who died in a hospital in San Pedro de Alcantara, the
    regional government of Extremadura said.
    Meanwhile, some 1,600 people were evacuated Thursday from a
    camping ground and several villas in northeastern Spain when a
    forest fire spread through surrounding hills, local police said.
    Firefighters using water-carrying aircraft were deployed to
    extinguish the fire which began shortly after 1p.m. (1100 GMT) near
    the town of Macanet de la Selva, police in the northeastern city of
    Girona said.
    Abetted by strong winds, the fire spread rapidly. Traffic along
    a local road and a train line were cut off because of dense smoke.
    As a preventative measure, authorities ordered the evacuation of
    some 1,600 people from two villas and a camping ground which were
    most threatened by the blaze although no houses were reported
    burned in the fire.
    Also on Thursday, polmcu"arrested three men on suspicion of
    setting a fire in central Spain that burned for three days and
    charred 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of land.
    The Civil Guard in Avila said two men, who had previous criminal
    records, had been arrested in connection with a blaze that started
    Sunday afternoon in that bone-dry province.
    Searches carried out in the men's homes in the village of Los
    Loros turned up stolen objects and unlicensed firearms, Civil Guard
    spokesman Amable Guerrero said.
    The fire, extinguished Wednesday, was one of the biggest of
    dozens that began last weekend in several areas of Spain and were
    exacerbated by temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104
    Fahrenheit).
    A third man was arrested in the southern province of Cordoba and
    accused of starting a fire last July 13 in Espiel.
    Altogether the blazes charred more than 27,000 hectares (60,000
    acres) of land, the Spanish Environment Ministry said.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post August 10th

    LONDON (AP) - Britain sweltered through its hottest day on
    record Sunday and Alpine glaciers melted as the heat wave that has
    baked much of Europe for days sizzled relentlessly on.
    The heat and drought-driven fires across the continent prompted
    Pope John Paul II to urge people to pray for rain.
    "It is just miserable. You can't get any respite from it,"
    said Londoner Ranald Davidson, squinting in the late afternoon sun
    as Britain surpassed 100 degrees for the first time.
    The national weather service recorded a reading of 100.22
    degrees at Heathrow Airport, outside a parched and baking London,
    and 100.58 degrees at Gravesend in southern England. Northern parts
    of the country were cooler, and torrential rain created problems in
    North Yorkshire.
    Germans, too, have had record heat. In the Bavarian city of
    Roth, the temperature hit nearly 105 degrees Saturday. The previous
    record of 104 was also in Bavaria, set in 1983.
    More than 40 deaths - including a 3-year-old French girl who
    died in a parked car on Sunday - have been blamed on temratures
    that have hovered in the 100-degree range for days.
    Pope John Paul II made his prayer appeal at the papal palace in
    lakeside Castel Gandolfo, which is generally cooler than Rome.
    Drought-fed fires have plagued Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, France
    and arid areas of other countries.
    "I invite all to join in my prayers for the victims of this
    calamity, and I exhort all to raise to the Lord fervent entreaties
    so that He may grant the relief of rain to the thirsty Earth,"
    John Paul told pilgrims and tourists.
    In northeastern Italy, firefighters worked for a third day to
    put out a blaze in the countryside near Udine.
    Three big fires burned in Portugal. The government asked Spain
    for two firefighting planes to help tackle a wildfire near
    Portimao, in the southern region of Algarve. About 145
    firefighters, 45 vehicles, two helicopters and two planes were
    battling the flames.
    In the French Alps, a police officer warned hikers about
    avalanches along a popular route on Mont Blanc. Glacial ice is
    melting, loosening rocks from the mountainside. On Saturday,
    helicopters evacuated 44 climbers in danger, police said.
    Germany was expected to remain hot until midweek; France was
    counting on at least another week of abnormally high temperatures;
    and forecasters in Italy expect the country to be steamy through
    August.
    Spain's National Meteorological Institute predicted temperatures
    above 107 degrees will continue throughout Spain for at least
    another week. Authorities in the Barcelona area have asked people
    not to visit national parks for picnics to avoid accidental fires.
    In soutrn England, the unaccustomed stretch of very hot
    weather parched lawns in the capital and taxed tempers. The
    previous national record in Britain was 98.8 degrees, which was set
    Aug. 3, 1990.
    Two Australian women looking for an air-conditioned pub in the
    Holborn area of London were fed up with the search for a cool place
    to sit.
    "London is not built for these temperatures!" said Jenny
    Geddes, 29, of Newcastle, Australia.
    "Where do you escape in London? There's nowhere to go sit and
    cool off," said Heather Irvine, of Ettalong, Australia, now living
    in London.
    In Britain, many trains have had to reduce speeds because of the
    danger that heat will buckle tracks. The London Underground is so
    hot that signs have appeared at stations advising people to take
    bottled water with them and to let staff know if they are feeling
    unwell before they get on the train.
    At Britain's beaches, people are often wrapped up in wool
    cardigans as they await the appearance of the sun, thousands of
    people bared nearly all on Sunday, soaking up the rays.
    At the southern resort town of Bournemouth, the coastline was
    jammedx
    "Our capacity on the seafront is about 100,000 and there is no
    spare sand here today," said senior seafront inspector Brian
    Cunnings. "Everybody has just squeezed in wherever they can."
    In Paris, Sonia Tiba, 28, who works for the French
    administration, was strolling on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday and
    sipping an icy drink. She was dreading going back to work Monday in
    her office with no air conditioning.
    "Tomorrow, we'll just have to take a deep breath and be brave.
    We don't have any choice," Tiba said.
    ---
    EDITOR'S NOTE: AP writer Angela Doland in Paris contributed to
    this report.
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    Post Fire claims family- 8/11

    MADRID, Spain (Reuters) - The raging forest fires of recent
    weeks claimed their first victims in Spain when five members of
    the same family were found dead Monday, apparently after trying
    to flee their home, which was surrounded by flames.
    "Five burned bodies were found on a road in the forest. It
    appears as though a family tried to escape their home," said a
    spokesman for firefighters in the northeastern Catalonia
    region.
    Emergency workers suspect the five may have died or passed
    out from smoke inhalation then were burned.
    "It really was an unfortunate case because the house where
    they lived remained intact. It was not affected by the fire ...
    Everything leads us to believe they left the house of their own
    will, locked up the house, and probably died of asphyxiation,"
    Artur Mas, chief councilor of the Catalonia regional
    government, told reporters.
    The fire in Sant Llorenc Savall, in Barcelona province in
    northeastern Spain, has forced about 500 people to evacuate
    their homes and has burned 3,250 acres of forest, the Catalonia
    regional government said Monday.
    "The fire is not yet under control," the statement said.
    Another fire in nearby Gallifa has forced the evacuation of
    250 to 300 people, and a third fire was reported to have broken
    out in l'Albiol, the Catalan government said.
    Forest fires have affected much of Europe and consumed more
    than 50,000 hectares in Spain so far this year in a record heat
    wave with temperatures often soaring above 104 degrees
    Fahrenheit.
    The heatwave has claimed more than 20 lives in Spain,
    officials said. In addition, one Spanish firefighter died of a
    heart attack while in action.

    Reut12:06 08-11-03
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    Post Fires, hot weather continue

    PARIS (AP) - Some French vintners started their earliest
    harvests ever Tuesday and a fire near a railroad station in Germany
    delayed trains - some of the latest difficulties Europe faces as a
    deadly heat wave scorches the continent.
    French utility giant EDF asked customers to shut off lights and
    take other steps to conserve electricity in what meteorologists say
    is one of Europe's hottest summers in generations.
    Power plants in Germany and France were granted temporary
    government approval to discharge water into rivers at higher
    temperatures than normal. In France, a limited number of power
    plants have reduced their energy output or shut down altogether.
    "We are mobilizing all possible means to develop production,"
    Francois Roussely, EDF chairman, told RTL radio. "The biggest
    danger would be to lose electricity."
    The head of France's emergency hospital physicians' association
    said at least 100 people in France alone have died of heat-related
    illnesses since a stifling blanket of hot air settled over Europe.
    Temperatures have hovered around 100 in many countries for days,
    breaking heat records across Europe.
    Patrick Pelloux called on the Red Cross and even the army to
    lend a hand to medical facilities stretched to their limits.
    "We are in an extremely difficult and tragic situation,"
    Pelloux said. "With more people, we would be able to save lives."
    France Info Radio reported that 500 people had been admitted to
    emergency rooms in the Paris region with heat-related illnesses.
    Health Ministry spokesman Mathieu Monnet said it was difficult
    to determine if the deaths were weather-related but statistics on
    the number of deaths were being compiled.
    Outside France, authorities have counted about 45 heat-related
    deaths. On Monday, five people died in Spain while fleeing a fire.
    Wildfires fanned by hot winds have eaten up tens of thousands of
    acres of territory in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal,
    Croatia, and the Netherlands.
    Algeria dispatched more than 80 firefighters and more than a
    dozen water tanker trucks to the French Mediterranean port city of
    Marseille to help battle fires in southeast France.
    Italian firefighters were battling 21 blazes in numerous
    regions, officials there said. Alpine rescue teams helped evacuate
    about 100 hikers whose path was blocked by a fire near the town of
    Misurina, 90 miles north of Venice.
    In Germany, national railroad Deutsche Bahn said a fire that
    broke out early Tuesday near Hamburg's Altona station delayed 15
    trains but was extinguished within an hour.
    Train service between Berlin and the eastern city of Halle
    returned to normal overnight after overhead wires had to be
    switched off late Monday to allow rescue services access to a
    forest fire, the German national railroad said.
    High temperatures also caused spikes in pollution. Reduced speed
    limits went into effect in areas of southern Switzerland because of
    high ozone levels.
    Nature's rhythms also were disturbed: The harvest began weeks
    earlier than usual in France's Beaujolais winemaking region, where
    grapes have ripened quickly under a pounding sun.
    Three vintners asked authorities for permission to start the
    harvest Tuesday in the central French region known for its light,
    fruity wines. Many more winemakers plan to begin harvesting
    Thursday, said Anne Masson of the Interprofessional Union of
    Beaujolais Wines.
    The Beaujolais harvest has never come so early in the season.
    Before now, the earliest harvest was in 1893, when it began Aug.
    25. Usually, ripe grapes are gathered sometime in September.
    Grouse hunters in Scotland were warned Tuesday that the birds
    might be hard to find because they may have gone off looking for
    water.
    Britain's Environment Agency said Tuesday it rescued about 1,000
    fish from a river in western England that had dried up, leaving the
    fish stranded in small pools with dwindling oxygen supplies.
    Italian weather experts say Europe's heat wave is one of the
    five worst in the last 150 years. Intense monsoon activity in
    Africa has been blamed in part for the merciless temperatures.
    However, forecasters predict relief in coming days.
    The Royal Meteorological Institute in Belgium said temperatures
    Thursday and Friday should be only in the high 70s.
    Meteo France said temperatures throughout France were expected
    to drop by midweek - although they would remain well above average.
    Forecasters were predicting a high of 84 for Thursday in the French
    capital.
    The German Weather Service forecast falling temperatures over
    the next two days with Wednesday's expected arrival of a cold front
    from Scandinavia.

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    Post July 27th

    Wildfires hit southern France
    NIMES, France, July 27 (Reuters) - Wildfires swept through
    the Gard region of southern France near Nimes on Tuesday,
    destroying more than 700 hectares (1,700 acres) of scrub and
    forcing dozens of people from their homes, officials said.
    Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Monday that
    more than 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of brush and pinewood had
    been destroyed in southern France in recent days and urged
    people to take extra care during the hot, dry summer weather.
    More than 600 firefighters battled the flames near the
    ancient city of Nimes, a local government spokeswoman said.
    "There was quite a strong wind pushing the fire forward. We
    hope the winds will ease during the night," she said.

    Reut16:04 07-27-04
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    Post October 28th

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Forest fires destroyed most of three
    villages near the Syrian-Turkish border, officials said, forcing
    3,000 people to evacuate as Syrian and Turkish firefighters
    extinguished the blazes on Wednesday.
    An elderly man trapped inside his burning home in the village of
    Eissaweya was the only reported death. Twenty-two people, including
    forest rangers and four firefighters, were treated for smoke
    inhalation or minor burns, according to the official Syrian Arab
    News Agency.
    An official with a local police department said the fire
    destroyed 400 of the 600 houses in Eissaweya, al-Faher and Um
    al-Toyor. The villages' 3,000 inhabitants were evacuated, according
    to the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of
    anonymity.
    Police said the fires broke out Tuesday, affecting a
    15-square-mile area, and were extinguished by midday Wednesday. The
    police official said, however, that a small blaze in the nearby
    village of al-Safra was still burning.
    More than 60 fire engines and many volunteers worked through the
    night to bring the fires under control. Firefighting planes and
    vehicles from Turkey helped to fight the fires, which affected nine
    villages, SANA reported.
    The agency quoted Environment Minister Hilal al-Atrash, who is
    supervising firefighting operations, as blaming the fires on
    drought and unseasonably warm weather.
    The affected villages are along the Mediterranean near a border
    crossing with Turkey. They are near the port city of Latakia, 220
    miles north of Damascus, but Latakia itself was not threatened.

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    Post Land of Oz

    Australians Leap into Sea to Avoid Deadly Wildfire

    "PA"


    At least eight people were killed in a wildfire that raced through southern Australia today, forcing terrified residents to leap into the sea to avoid the flames, emergency officials said.

    The blaze on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, about 250 miles west of Adelaide, was the worst of several wildfires reported around the state, where temperatures have topped 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) in recent days.

    Residents of at least one township were forced to evacuate their homes and seek refuge on a beach to avoid the flames, State Emergency Services spokesman Stuart Macleod said.

    “Some people had moved into the sea to escape the fire. Our people picked them up and brought them back to shore,” Macleod said.

    The peninsula fire was reported yesterday and contained by firefighters, but flared up again today before blazing out of control, police spokeswoman Kylie Walsh said.

    At least eight people have been killed, but the number was expected to rise as the fire continued to blaze out of control, said police inspector Malcolm Schluter.

    It was not immediately clear what started the blaze. Firefighters said today’s weather conditions made it impossible to contain.

    “There is no firefighting force in the world that can stop the fire in the conditions we experienced today,” Country Fire Service spokesman Simon Vogel told the Ten television network.

    Two other wildfires also forced the closure of several Adelaide roads today.
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