NewsWorldHundreds more evacuated from homes as wildfires spread in France

Hundreds more evacuated from homes as wildfires spread in France

Hundreds more people were evacuated from their homes as wildfires continued to rage out of control in southwestern France, authorities said on Friday (July 15).

More than 1,000 firefighters, supported by nine water-bomber aircraft, have been battling since Tuesday (July 12) to master two blazes fanned by scorching heat, tinder-box conditions and strong winds.

“The situation is still adverse,” said the authority for the Gironde department, where the blazes are raging.

The fires have now burnt 7,300 hectares, a total that increased by 2,000 hectares overnight, authorities said.

“We put in place a strategy today to try, as we do every day, to stop the fire’s starting line. At this moment, I can’t guarantee you that it works,” local rescue operations official Olivier Charatte said.

Wildfires also raged across Portugal, Spain and Croatia, burning homes and threatening livelihoods, as much of Europe baked in a heatwave that has pushed temperatures into the mid-40 degrees Celsius in some parts.

One of the two Gironde fires was around the town of Landiras south of Bordeaux, where 4,200 hectares have been burnt, roads closed and an extra 480 residents evacuated, bringing the total there to almost a 1,000.

The other blaze, that has already burnt 3,100 hectares, was along the Atlantic Coast close to the “Dune du Pilat” – the tallest sand dune in Europe – in the Arcachon Bay area, above which heavy clouds of dark smoke were seen rising into the sky.

“We are currently experiencing a one-of-a-kind season in terms of intensity,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday as he visit a wildfire crisis centre at the interior ministry in Paris.

“We have already seen thrice the amount of forests that have burned compared to 2020. We had both a very dry spring and fires that started strongly,” he added.

Around 6,000 people were evacuated from surrounding campsites on Wednesday, and another 4,000 people early on Thursday.

Three houses and two restaurants were destroyed overnight in that area, authorities said.

(Reuters)

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