Motorists in the Bordeaux region of France were faced with a frightening spectacle on Wednesday when the median of a highway burst into flames amid a heat wave that's been scorching the rest of the country and much of Europe this week. The blaze was one of at least a dozen fires that have been reported near roads or railways since Tuesday, according to local media.
In a video posted to social media on Wednesday, Europe-based journalist Quentin Wilson recorded a fire burning on the median of Highway A630 in Eysines, near Bordeaux, according to Storyful. The high temperature for Eysines reportedly topped out at 106 F (41 C).
The fire was responsible for causing traffic slowdowns and was eventually extinguished by firefighters.
Other videos posted on Twitter and Facebook showed different perspectives as the fired burned the dried brown foliage on the median in two directions. One observer perched on an overpass above the highway shot footage of the fire burning as cars passed by in both directions. The blaze left scorched black earth in its wake.
No cause of the fire had been reported as of Thursday.
Temperatures were as high as 107 F (42 C) on Wednesday in some areas of the region, where all-time high temperatures have already been reached.
'Wildfires are a natural outcome of summer heat waves, especially where summers tend to be dry or when coinciding with drought. Such is true in much of France. This year, however, two great historic heat waves have coincided with rainfall of 5-25 percent of normal over a roughly five-week stretch starting in mid-June across much of central and northern France," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.
Andrews said this includes Bordeaux, France, near the wildfire. Since June 16, temperatures in Bordeaux have been 8.7 F (4.8 C) above normal with only 16% of normal rainfall.
Highs of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 C) were reached in most of France outside of the Atlantic and immediate Mediterranean coastal regions, Andrews said. A few sites reported temperatures reached at least 105-106 F (40-41 C).
Both Belgium and the Netherlands set all-time national highs on Wednesday. These new records could fall on Thursday as extreme heat persists across the region.
"Shocking as this may be, the hottest weather of this historic heat wave is forecast for Thursday, when north-central France through Belgium, Netherlands and northwest Germany could re-test and exceed historical highs. Even eastern England, including Greater London, will put record highs to the test," Andrews said.
In France, the heat wave began in earnest on Monday with highs at or above 90 degrees in Paris, even topping 100 in parts of the south.
The weather service has declared the majority of north-central France under a red warning, which is issued during dangerous heat conditions so people remain vigilant. Almost all of the rest of the country was under an orange warning, warning residents to have an active awareness of the heat wave.
Wildfires shouldn't be the only concern for residents as health risks as well as damaged infrastructure are a high possibility.
"Cooling demand may test the electrical grid, crops will be stressed and infrastructure may suffer with buckling of rails and pavements. Flights may be delayed owing to the loss of lift for takeoffs," Andrews said.
Paris set a new all-time record on Thursday afternoon as the heat wave peaked.
On Friday, relief will be on the way as a cold front will cut off the heat in western areas; however, a corridor through western Germany, eastern France and the Low Countries will experience one more exceptionally hot day.