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  12 Aug 2022, 14:31

'Extreme vigilance' at vast western France fire

HOSTENS, France, Aug 12, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - A huge fire that has devastated 
swathes of southwestern France was largely contained, but firefighters face 
another "complicated" day, local authorities said on Friday.

The 40-kilometre (25-mile) active fire front in the Gironde and Landes 
departments around Bordeaux "has not developed, but the weather conditions 
are pushing us towards extreme vigilance," deputy prefect Ronan Leaustic told 
reporters.

No new evacuations had been ordered on top of the 10,000 people already asked 
to leave, he added.

But "today is likely to be complicated, since temperatures continue to rise 
and the water table keeps falling," Leaustic said.

The roughly 1,100 French firefighters on the ground were reinforced on 
Thursday by 361 comrades drawn from European neighbours including Germany, 
Poland, Austria and Romania, along with several water-bombing planes from the 
European Union fleet.

In the hard-hit area around the village of Hostens, the thick smoke seen on 
Thursday had given way by Friday morning to blue skies and occasional clouds, 
an AFP journalist saw.

France has been buffeted this summer by the historic drought that has forced 
water use restrictions nationwide, as well as a series of heatwaves that 
experts say are being driven by climate change.

The blaze near Bordeaux erupted in July -- the driest month seen in France 
since 1961 -- destroying 14,000 hectares and forcing thousands of people to 
evacuate before it was contained.

But it continued to smoulder in the tinder-dry pine forests and peat-rich 
soil.

Officials suspect arson may have played a role in the latest flare-up, which 
has burned 7,400 hectares (18,000 acres) since Tuesday. 

 


 

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