France commune

France battles huge blaze as deadly heat spreads across Europe

France has become the latest European country to appeal for international help to respond to a huge wildfire in the southwest which authorities say has already destroyed nearly 7,000 hectares or 17,300 acres of forest. French President Emmanuel Macron said several countries were already helping France contain the raging fires. The blaze comes as Europe grapples with deadly wildfires sparked by record temperatures and droughts across the continent that authorities say have killed at least 1,000 people.

By Stefan J. Bos

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling what has been called a “monster” wildfire near the city of Bordeaux. As a result, some areas of the region now look like a Warzone.

Authorities say the fire destroyed several homes and forced 10,000 residents to flee. Thousands of hectares of forest have been
destroyed as firefighters struggle to control the spread of the flames.

Firefighters say strong winds and high temperatures hamper their operation.

The huge forest fire in the French region of Gironde has been raging for two days around the commune of Landiras, about 30 kilometers or 19 miles away
southeast of Bordeaux.

French firefighters had to be redeployed urgently from other regions to reinforce the ongoing operation. They are supported by specialist aircraft that have dropped water and flame retardants.

Amid the misery, French President Macron said he was delighted that Austria, Germany, Greece, Poland and Romania were “coming to help” France fight the fire. In a social media post, Macron called it “European solidarity at work!”

OUT OF CONTROL

But despite their efforts and those of the international community, the fire was still out of control on Thursday.

This summer, France and several European countries have experienced a wave of deadly wildfires triggered by record temperatures and droughts across the continent. Wildfires are also raging in Greece, Spain and Italy as the heat wave moves across Europe.

More than 1,000 deaths have been attributed to heat in Portugal and Spain alone. But across Europe, that death toll would be even higher.

In Britain, an extreme heat warning has come into effect, with temperatures forecast to reach 37 degrees Celsius or 99 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas over the next four days, unusually high temperatures for the island nation.

There are discussions among experts on the causes of the last heat and forest fires.

While several scientists link them to climate change, other experts say it’s still hard to pick one reason for this year’s trend for the whole of Europe.