Canada, the U.S., Australia, England, Greece, Sweden — it’s been a tough year for wildfires around the world.
Dry, windy conditions brought about by a global heatwave have created fertile ground for forest fires across the globe, and with deadly consequences.
In just a few hours on few hours on July 23, fire consumed the Greek coastal resort of Mati, outside Athens. The Mati fire and one near Kineta — also outside of Athens — killed 96 people, making them the second-deadliest wildfire to occur worldwide since 2001, after bushfires in Australia that killed 180 people in 2009.
On Earth, something is always burning, and fires can be beneficial for forests when their frequency and intensity are checked by nature.
Fire clears the forest floor of debris and low-growing undergrowth that competes with trees for nutrients and space. It kills diseases and insects that prey on trees. And it helps ensure the survival of certain tree species that depend on fire to release seeds.
But when drought turns forest floor itself into fuel and flame-fanning winds kick up, forest fires can spread into populated areas, easily becoming deadly and devastating.
Here’s a look at some of the wildfires around the world that have left destruction in their wake this year.