July 31, 1995 in Nation/World

Europeans Sweltering As Heat Grips Continent Brush Fires, Dozens Of Deaths Being Blamed On Hot Weather

Associated Press

Caldo. Calor. Hitze. Zestos.

Translation: Europe is broiling.

From Spain to Greece to normally brisk Britain, a grinding heat wave has pushed temperatures well above 100 degrees in some places and has been blamed for dozens of deaths and devastating brush fires across the Mediterranean region.

No major cooling off is forecast soon, and many Europeans simply have abandoned their steamy cities. The annual August vacation exodus began over the weekend, and roads to beaches and mountain resorts were clogged in Italy and France.

Those remaining behind are seeking relief in air-conditioned theaters, in parks or over cool drinks.

“I don’t care what it’s like outside as long as they manage to keep the beer cool enough,” said Otokar Nejedly, 62, in a pub in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.

“Wish I could sleep here,” sighed Kelly Doyle of San Francisco, slapping a dripping bandana on the back of her neck at Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

Europe’s scorching summer seems tame compared with the killer heat in much of the United States. But in some parts of Europe, the searing weather has produced the same results: death and misery.

In Spain, temperatures have exceeded 104 degrees for the past three weeks - hitting 113 degrees last week in Seville and Cordoba. Local media report the heat has taken at least 33 lives, mostly elderly people.

The heat also has hampered Spanish crews fighting seasonal brush fires.

In Greece, 15,000 acres of parched forest outside Athens burned earlier this month. More than 25 homes and other buildings on Mount Pendelikon were destroyed.

Weeks of hot and stagnant weather have brought air quality to dangerous levels in Athens. In early July, officials banned cars from the city center for a day after the temperature hit 102 degrees.

Italian authorities have issued warnings as pollution levels have risen, especially in Rome. At least nine deaths have been blamed on weeks of relentless heat which has hovered around 100 degrees at times.

Some Italians have traded their traditional outdoor summer meals for usually deserted air-conditioned dining rooms. “It’s no good when you’re sweating in your pasta,” Francesca Lancia said inside a Rome restaurant.

Even to the north, heat is bearing down.

In Poland, temperatures have hit an unusually scorching 88 degrees.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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