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EUROPE'S WEATHER EXTREMES EASE, AT LEAST UNTIL NEXT WEEK

Fires raged in several southern European nations on Thursday, burning through villages, forests, and farmland and stretching firefighting services to the limit, even as a weeklong heat wave blamed for dozens of deaths began to abate.

A regional heat wave has fueled the blazes, but temperatures began to dip Thursday, falling from 113 degrees to a predicted high of 102 degrees in Athens and to about 86 degrees in Serbia.

Romania, where 33 deaths were blamed on the heat wave, also saw temperatures fall from 106 degrees to 88 degrees. Cooler weather was predicted until Sunday, after which the heat was expected to spike again.

Across England, meanwhile, river levels stabilized Thursday, allowing residents of flooded areas to survey the damage and begin the cleanup, as hundreds of thousands of people remained without clean water.

A father and his son died while cleaning a flooded rugby club office in the town of Tewkesbury. The fire and rescue service for the Gloucestershire region said they might have been overcome by fumes from a gas-powered pump.

Britain has had one of its wettest summers on record - a sharp contrast to last summer, which was one of its driest and hottest. Drier weather was expected for today and Saturday across much of England.

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