France: More than 1,000 firefighters battle ‘monster’ forest fire

France: More than 1,000 firefighters battle ‘monster’ forest fire

Maps show devastating scale of forest fires in France with 10,000 people evacuated from their homes

More than 10,000 people have had to flee their homes (Image: EPA/Reuters)

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling a “monster” wildfire in southwestern France that has scorched forests and forced 10,000 people to flee their homes.

The raging inferno has been blazing for three days just outside Bordeaux, and has already destroyed 7,400 hectares of forest and shows no sign of slowing down.

“It’s a troll, it’s a monster,” Gregory Allione of the French fire service FNSPF told RTL radio.

Firefighters have so far struggled to contain the fire due to strong winds and high temperatures, fearing that the direction of the fire could change drastically at a moment’s notice.

But French authorities have called in the cavalry and received support from across Europe to help fight the blaze, with 361 firefighters, as well as trucks and water-bombing helicopters on their way to help the 1,100 French firefighters already on the ground.

“European solidarity at work!” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted as sixty-five German firefighters from Bonn arrived on the scene, with additional support from Poland and Romania expected to join them shortly.

Forest fires have broken out across Europe this summer as successive heatwaves have baked the continent on an unprecedented scale.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a wildfire near Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, in this handout photo released Aug. 12, 2022. Courtesy SDIS 33/Handout via REUTERS THIS PHOTO IS PROVIDED OF NO THIRD PARTY RESALE.  NO ARCHIVE.  MANDATORY CREDIT

More than 1,000 French firefighters are on hand to battle the huge forest fire that has engulfed the Gironde region of south-west France (Image: REUTERS)

epa10116974 A handout visualization, which combines an image acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites on August 11, 2022 and data from the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS), made available by Copernicus, the EU's Earth observation programme, shows a fire raging in Gironde and Landes, South West France (issued 12 August 2022).  The fire, which broke out near Hostens on August 9, about 30 km southeast of Bordeaux, has destroyed several buildings and forced over 10,000 residents to leave their homes.  Shown in this visualization, the fire started in an area adjacent to that destroyed by fires in early July 2022, which had burned more than 18,000 hectares.  EPA/EUROPEAN UNION, COPERNICUS SENTINEL-2 IMAGERY HANDOUT - MANDATORY CREDIT: EUROPEAN UNION, COPERNICUS SENTINEL-2 IMAGERY-- HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALE

More than 60,000 hectares (230 square miles) have gone up in flames so far in France this year, six times the annual average for 2006-2021 (Credit: EPA)

Firefighters have been battling large forest fires in France

A further 361 firefighters from across Europe have been called in to help tackle the blaze, bringing in trucks, drones and aircraft (Image: REUTERS)

Valentine Dupy took pictures of her house with her phone before she was evacuated from Belin-Beliet, in the heart of the Gironde region “just in case something happened”.

“It was like an apocalypse. Smoke everywhere … and planes throw orange powder on the fire.’

Firefighters said they had managed to save her village, turned into a ghost town after police told residents to evacuate as the flames approached.

But the fire reached the outskirts, leaving destroyed houses and charred tractors in its wake.

Before the evacuation, some of the local residents had to save themselves on the rooftops as the flames quickly approached their houses, reports say.

“We have been lucky. Our houses were saved. But you see the disaster everywhere. Some houses could not be saved, said resident Gaetan, pointing to houses that had been burned to the ground.

FRANCE-ENVIRONMENT-CLIMATE-WEATHER-WILDFIRES

Over 10,000 people have since been evacuated from the town of Belin-Béliet, leaving the entire area a ghost town (Image: Getty Images)

A view of a house and a car destroyed by fire in Belin-Beliet, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 11, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

A view of a house and car destroyed by fire in Belin-Beliet, as wildfires continue to spread rapidly across the region (Credit: REUTERS)

French authorities said temperatures in the Gironde region will reach 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Thursday and remain high over the weekend, prompting firefighters to warn of an “explosive cocktail” of hot, dry weather and tinder-box conditions that could help to fan flames.

Matthieu Jomain, a spokesperson for the Gironde firefighters said: “We are still in the phase of (trying to) contain the fire, direct it where we want it, where there is less vegetation, where our vehicles can best position themselves … so we can finally fix it, control it and extinguish it.’

Hosten’s mayor Jean-Louis Dartiailh described the last few weeks as a disaster.

“The area is totally disfigured. We are broken, we are exhausted, he told Radio Classique. ‘(This fire) is the last straw.’

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