Wildfires are raging in southwestern France and Spain forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, as blistering summer temperatures put authorities on alert in parts of Europe.

About 14,000 people had been evacuated from France's Gironde region by this afternoon as more than 1,200 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 other European countries including Portugal and Spain, and more than 25,000 acres of land was on fire in the Gironde region today, up from 18,500 acres yesterday.

Members of the public observe a fire from La Teste-de-Buch, southwestern France

In the latest weather warning, 38 of France's 96 departments were listed on "orange" alert, with residents of those areas urged to be vigilant. The heatwave in western France is expected to peak on Monday, with temperatures climbing above 40C.

In neighbouring Spain, firefighters were battling a series of blazes after days of unusually high temperatures that reached up to 45.7C.

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 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 this morning.

Many were taken to shelter in a provincial sports centre.

A firefighter tackles a forest fire around the village of Eiriz in northern Portugal

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 7,500 acres, forced the evacuation of two villages and threatened to reach the Monfrague national park.

Fires were also burning in the central region of Castille and Leon and in Galicia in the north.

There was some respite for firefighters in Portugal, where temperatures dropped across most of the country after reaching about 40C.

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"We have had big fires and we don't want them to be reactivated again ... We will keep extreme vigilance this weekend," Emergency and Civil Protection Authority Commander Andre Fernandes said.

A total of 98,000 acres was ravaged by wildfires from the start of the year until mid-June, more than triple the area razed by fires in the same period last year, data from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests showed.

An area equivalent to almost two-thirds of that has burned during fires in the last week.

A firefighter helicopter flies over a wildfire in Amarante, north of Portugal

Portugal's Health Ministry said 238 people had died as a result of the heatwave between 7-13 July.

Across the Mediterranean from Europe, blazes in Morocco ripped through more than 5,000 acres of forest in the northern areas of Larache, Ouazzane, Taza and Tetouane, killing at least one person, local authorities said.

More than 1,000 households were evacuated from their villages and water-carrying planes helped extinguish most of the fires by Friday night, though firefighters were still struggling to douse three hot spots near Larache.

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

With possibly record-breaking temperatures expected, the government's emergency response committee was due to meet this afternoon.

The highest recorded temperature in Britain was 38.7C, recorded in Cambridge on 25 July 2019.