Hundreds of firefighters and soldiers battled against three raging fires throughout the weekend in Spain as authorities ordered mass evacuations and closed roads near the town of Villa del Prado, 60 miles south of Madrid.
France too had to contend with fire in the south of the country – and some farmers there counted the cost of the heatwave to their grape vines.
In Germany there was no respite, with a record high temperature for June and athletes hit hard by the punishing weather.
Germany recorded its all-time highest June temperature on Sunday – as 102F (38.9C) was recorded in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. But the country is now braced for storms and even hail with strong gusts and rain forecast in the coming days.
In Rome, Pope Francis told pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square: ‘I pray for those who have suffered the most from the heat in recent days; the sick, the elderly, those who work outside, on construction sites… let no one be abandoned or exploited.’
A runner covers herself in water from a firefighters’ hose during a half marathon in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday afternoon
German authorities have had to deal with several wildfires which ravaged forest areas throughout the country last week and over the weekend
Firefighters splash water on the trees of a forest near the evacuated locality of Alt Jabel in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, northern Germany, on Monday
Leading athlete Sarah True of the U.S. tries to cool down before collapsing as she competes in the Ironman triathlon European Championships in Frankfurt on Sunday
Spanish firefighters using machinery in a fire affected area in Almorox, Toledo on Monday morning to clear areas of charred woodland in an attempt to stop wildfires from spreading
The German Weather Service (DWD) has warned the south-east of Germany to brace for torrential rain, gusts of up to 80km/h and hailstones – with Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria expected to bear the brunt of the storms.
Six days of intense heat fuelled huge blazes and spikes of pollution in many countries. According to official figures, it claimed four lives in France, two in Italy and another two in Spain.
The victims included a 17-year-old harvest worker, a 33-year-old roofer and a 72-year-old homeless man.
A welcome temperature drop came to western parts of Europe on Sunday, after almost a week-long heatwave, but hundreds of Spanish firefighters and soldiers continued to battle three major blazes.
Paris authorities said on Monday that they had removed the amber-level heatwave alert that had been declared for the French capital since June 23.
Paris had been spared the worst of the heatwave, which was at its most intense in the south of France, where record temperatures were recorded last week.
Temperatures rose to a record of 45.9 degrees Celsius (114.44F) in Gallargues-le-Montueux, near Nimes, in southern France on Friday, according to Meteo France.
Although temperatures have eased mostly in the north of the country, Meteo France says average temperatures remain high in the south, with several administrative regions still on the ‘level three amber’ heatwave alert.
People swarm a public beach amid a heatwave in Valencia amid blazing temperatures across Spain. The southern European nation has been among the worst hit by the heatwave
Six young women cool themselves in water in a pick-up truck , that they sealed with a plastic sheet in Unlingen, southern Germany
People cool down in the fountains of Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower as France continues to swelter in the record-breaking heatwave
Helicopters drop water over a wildfire in the outskirts of Cadalso de los Vidrios in central Spain on Friday afternoon as authorities battled to contain the fire
Spain was hit by more wildfires as temperatures remained sky-high in the Europe-wide heatwave, authorities said, just as firefighters finally managed to contain another blaze they had been tackling for nearly 72 hours
Authorities in Spain were forced to evacuate dozens of residents from their homes as the wildfires spread rapidly over the weekend
Participants of the annual Gay Pride throw their arms up in relief as they are sprayed with water on Friday afternoon in Paris
Police used hoses to keep people cool as they marched through the streets of Paris for the Pride festival despite the soaring temperatures
In northern and western France Sunday, hot-weather warnings were lifted days after the country posted successive record temperatures as it sizzled alongside Italy, Spain and several central European nations.
The mercury was predicted to drop by as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) in Paris Sunday, but to continue rising in central and eastern Germany and in Italy before rainstorms cool things down by Tuesday.
On Sunday, a record 38.9 C was measured in Bad Kreuznach in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state, according to data from the national weather service, topping the previous high of 38.6 C recorded Wednesday in two other towns.
Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix in the central city of Spielberg took place in temperatures of 35 degrees.
In Frankfurt, the blazing heat took its toll on US athlete Sarah True. Leading the Ironman European Championship race, she collapsed a kilometre from home and was unable to finish.
The firefighter service in the northern city of Hamburg reported that ‘many runners collapsed during a half-marathon which took place under a heat that reached 33 degrees. Twenty-four runners had to be brought to clinics for treatment.’
Police used water cannons to help cool down the crowd at a summer street festival in Soemmerda in Thuringia state.
Spanish authorities ordered the evacuation Sunday of around 40 people and closed four roads as a raging wildfire advanced in the centre of the country, southwest of Madrid, amid scorching temperatures.
A firefighter in central Paris sprays a hose over a multicoloured Pride attendee on Friday as the sweltering heat didn’t stop revellers
Two women paddle on their stand-up boards during the hot summer weather on the Rhine-Herne canal at the Ruhr valley in Gelsenkirchen, Germany
A fire burning on a scrap yard is seen in Duvendiek, Germany, on Sunday as sporadic fires broke out throughout the country during record temperatures
Firefighters spray water on rusty cars after a fire at the scrap yard on Sunday. Authorities have been struggling to cope with the amount of fires last week
Another major fire burned near the central city of Toledo, while in northeastern Catalonia, an inferno that begun on Wednesday was being brought under control, regional authorities said.
Four Spanish weather stations have reported June records from 38.8 C to 41.9 C.
In France, fires razed about 600 hectares (1,480 acres) and dozens of houses in the southern Gard department.
This is the same region where a French record of 45.9 C was set Friday, prompting the Meteo France weather service to issue its highest alert level of red for the first time.
Some winemakers in southern France said their crops, which had already suffered three years of water shortages, were badly burnt.
Some vines, said winegrower Jerome Despey, looked as if they had been gone over with a ‘blowtorch’.
People enjoy a hot summer day on inflatable boats during the second edition of the Utrecht Drijf event in Utrecht in the Netherlands
People escape with dog, beach umbrella and bath towel during the rising tide as the heatwave hits France, in Cayeux-sur-Mer
People walk along a pebbled beach during sunset as a heatwave hits France, in Cayeux-sur-Mer
‘I’ve been a winegrower for 30 years. I have never seen a vine burnt by a sudden onset of heat,’ as had happened on Friday, Despey added.
France is the seventh European country to ever register a plus 45-degree temperature, along with Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia, Meteo France said.
Meteorologists point to a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the scorching early European summer, and scientists warn that global warming linked to human fossil fuel use could make such heatwaves more frequent.
The German national weather service said temperatures were more than four degrees higher in June than an international reference period of 1981-2010.
The stifling heat also caused air quality to nosedive in some European cities, prompting local authorities to take anti-pollution measures such as temporary bans on the use of cars that cause the most pollution.
A blaze near the city of Toledo in Spain forced the evacuation of 22 residents, as water-dropping aircraft assisted firefighters on the ground
The fires were raging for hours as firefighters tackled the huge blaze with helicopters as the temperatures soared in Spain
In Saint Gilles, in the Gard region of France, a fire broke out which burned 620 hectares and 700 firefighters were deployed to tackle it
People enjoy the hot summer weather on a water trampoline at a lake in Moers, Germany, today, amid a heatwave across Europe
In Madrid, many made the most of the heatwave by taking to the water in a lake in Retiro Park as temperatures rose above 100F
A priest cool-offs in the fountain of St. Peter Square at the Vatican this afternoon. Italy put 16 cities under alerts for high temperatures, and civil services distributed water to tourists