Hundreds of firefighters from across the EU have been dispatched to France to help fight the wildfires in an unprecedented show of international solidarity.
Most are stationed along a 40 km active fire front in the southwest, where a blaze described as “monstrous” continued to devastate pine forests.
German firefighters and their vehicles arrived in the early hours of Friday morning to help tackle the massive Landiras fire in Gironde and Landes, south of Bordeaux, which flared up again this week after destroying sections of forest in July.
Romanian firefighters and teams from Poland, Austria, Greece and Italy have also been deployed to help more than 1,100 French firefighters trying to contain the blaze. President Emmanuel Macron tweeted of the more than 360 firefighters arriving with vehicles and planes: “Our partners are coming to the aid of France against the fires. Thanks to them. European solidarity is at work!
In a summer of extreme heat and drought, France faced its worst wildfires in years. A local firefighter described the Landiras blaze in south-west France as “a sleeping monster that can wake up to any gust of wind”.
The French public television channel reported that since the start of the year, 56,000 hectares of forest had burned in France, three times the annual average for this decade. There have also been wildfires in northern regions not usually affected by summer fires, notably in Brittany, where firefighting planes have arrived from Sweden to help.
Authorities in Gironde said in a statement that more than 7,400 hectares of forest had burned in the Landiras fire, the biggest blaze in France. They said that although the fire did not grow further overnight, the high temperatures and dry conditions expected on Friday meant there was a “serious risk” of the fire spreading, and that it would be a “complicated” day for firefighters.
The fire had already destroyed 14,000 hectares in July – the driest month in France since 1961 – before being contained, but it had never been fully extinguished and continued to smolder in the peat-rich soil of the region before erupting again this week in tinder. dry pine forests.
Since erupting again on Tuesday, the blaze, which officials suspect was caused by arson, has burned 7,400 hectares, destroyed or damaged 17 homes and forced 10,000 people to flee, the official said. Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Mendousse of the Gironde. the service told AFP.