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Wildfires rage in France and Spain as heatwaves sear Europe
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Wildfires raged in southwestern France and Spain on Saturday. /AP

Wildfires raged in southwestern France and Spain on Saturday. /AP

Wildfires raged in southwestern France and Spain on Saturday, forcing thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes as blistering summer temperatures put authorities on alert in parts of Europe.

More than 12,200 people had been evacuated from France's Gironde region by Saturday morning as more than 1,000 firefighters battled to bring the flames under control, regional authorities said in a statement.

"We have a fire that will continue to spread as long as it is not stabilised," Vincent Ferrier, deputy prefect for Langon in Gironde, told a news conference.

Wildfires have torn through France in recent weeks, as well as in other European countries including Portugal and Spain, and nearly 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of land was on fire in the Gironde region on Saturday, up from 7,300 hectares on Friday.

In neighbouring Spain, firefighters were battling a series of blazes on Saturday after days of unusually high temperatures that reached up to 45.7 degrees Celsius (114 Fahrenheit).

The nearly week-long heatwave has caused 360 heat-related deaths, according to figures from the Carlos III Health Institute.

More than 3,000 people have now been evacuated from homes due to a large wildfire near Mijas, a town in the province of Malaga that is popular with northern European tourists, the region's emergency services said in a tweet early on Saturday.

Many were taken to shelter in a provincial sports centre.

Elsewhere in Spain, thick black plumes of smoke rose into the air near Casas de Miravete in the Extremadura region as helicopters dumped water on flames that have scorched 3,000 hectares, forced the evacuation of two villages and threatened to reach the Monfrague national park.

Across the Mediterranean from Europe, blazes in Morocco ripped through more than 2,000 hectares of forest in the northern areas, killing at least one person, local authorities said.

In Britain, the national weather forecaster has issued its first red "extreme heat" warning for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday.

(With input from Reuters)

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