Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

The Dixie fire rages in Greenville, California.

 A home is engulfed in flames as the Dixie fire rages on in Greenville, California on August 5, 2021. (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

From California to Greece to Siberia, Wildfires Rage Worldwide—and More Expected

"It's not a wildfire season anymore," said one journalist, "it's a wildfire year."

Julia Conley

Officials from the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. to Southern Europe are warning of extreme heatwaves expected in the coming days, sparking fears of even more wildfires like those that have laid waste to millions of acres worldwide in recent weeks, including in Oregon, California, Greece, Turkey, and Siberia.

The prime minister of Portugal warned Wednesday that with temperatures expected to reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit this week, officials are bracing for potential wildfires like the ones that killed more than 100 people in 2017. 

In Spain, the national weather service warned that a heatwave could bring temperatures as high as 111 degrees Fahrenheit. 

More than 5,000 miles away in the northwestern U.S., Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Tuesday as the state prepared for its second major heatwave of the summer, less than two months after extreme heat was linked to more than 60 deaths there. Seattle authorities were also opening cooling stations and preparing to protect bridges and roads from heat damage.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the hundreds in the typically temperate region, in "a direct result of the climate crisis" according to Oregon state climatologist Larry O'Neill. 

"This would be kind of a heatwave that maybe we experience every two to three years in the past, but this will be the second strong one this summer," O'Neill told The Guardian.

In neighboring California, the Dixie Fire, which had torn through more than 500,000 acres over the past four weeks as of Tuesday, is still active in four counties due to dry conditions, according to Cal Fire.

The wildfire is now the second-largest in California's history and has destroyed sacred sites of the Native American Maidu community, razed nearly 1,000 homes and other structures, and decimated the historic town of Greenville, home to more than 1,000 people. 

The blaze has also sent smoke and ashes more than 1,000 miles from the flames, raising fears of toxicity in the coming weeks.

On the other side of the globe in Siberia, more than 190 forest fires have forced widespread evacuations, with smoke drifting as far as the North Pole for the first time in history. 

Emergency workers have given up on fighting nearly 70 additional fires that have burned through nearly 8,000 square miles, making the fires 10 times as large as the Dixie Fire and bigger than the wildfires that have raged in recent days in Turkey, Greece, Italy, and other countries combined. 

Fires that have spread for nine days across the Greek island of Evia are gradually being brought under control by nearly 900 firefighters, but the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece faced more fires on Wednesday and authorities in Evia are now left struggling to help hundreds of newly displaced people.

As of Tuesday, an extreme heatwave like the one Portuguese, Spanish, and American officials are now warning of was contributing to nearly 600 wildfires burning in "all corners" of the country, leading to what Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called a "disaster of unprecedented proportions."

On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, at least 65 people have been killed in wildfires that have burned in Algeria's mountainous Kabyke region over the past two days. 

The wildfires, driven by the climate crisis and the continued extraction of carbon-emitting fossil fuels, are also worsening the planetary emergency by releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

"Already by mid July, the total estimated emissions is higher than a lot of previous years' totals for summer periods, so that's showing that this is a very persistent problem," Parrington told CNN last month. 

The latest fires come on the heels of Monday's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the urgent need to rapidly cut down on greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the disastrous consequences of the climate crisis. 

As Josh Saul, climate and disasters reporter for Bloomberg, said in a video he posted to Twitter on Tuesday, the prevalence of fires across the globe and in a wide variety of climates, starting weeks earlier this year than in previous years, shows annual "wildfire seasons" are a thing of the past. 

"With hotter temperatures and dryer conditions lasting longer into the fall and winter than they used to, the fire season is also lasting longer," Saul said.

"It's not a wildfire season anymore, it's a wildfire year," he added.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Progressives Won't Leave Working Families Behind': Jayapal Stands Ground Against Pelosi-Biden

"We've been clear since the spring: the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act pass together—and that hasn't changed."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Too Bad We Can't Tax Egos': Elon Musk Blasted for Attack on Billionaire Tax

"This country made him rich," said one critic. "He owes us."

Julia Conley ·

'Hold the Line': Progressives Push to Block Vote on Weaker Bill Without Final Text of Build Back Better

"By holding firm on keeping the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill firmly linked, progressives are giving their colleagues in the Senate the space and the leverage to negotiate the strongest package possible."

Common Dreams staff ·

Will They Lie or Finally Come Clean?: Watch Fossil Fuel CEOs Testify at Historic Hearing

"Will these executives own up to their misinformation, or keep trying to hide behind lies and spin?"

Andrea Germanos ·

'Pelosi Absolutely Destroyed' Tax on Billionaires, Says Democratic Insider

"The idea that Manchin is to blame for killing the billionaires' tax is too convenient," argued a journalist who spoke with party aides about the moribund proposal.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo