Wildfire. Free public domain CC0 image.

On Wednesday, a wildfire raged through the Gironde area of southwestern France, damaging homes and prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents, some of whom had climbed onto rooftops as the flames approached.

More than 1,000 firemen, aided by water-bombing planes, were battling the raging inferno, which had scorched over 6,000 hectares and was still burning out of control.

France, like the rest of Europe, is dealing with multiple heatwaves and the country’s worst drought on record. Several wildfires are raging across the country, including at least four big ones.

As the fire spread, police went door to door in the Gironde village of Hostens, warning residents to escape. Camille Delay fled with her partner and son, taking their two cats, hens, and house insurance paperwork with her.

“Everyone in the village climbed onto their rooftops to see what was happening – within ten minutes a little twist of smoke became enormous,” the 30-year-old told Reuters by phone.

The Gironde authorities classified the fire as “rampant”.

More evacuations, according to firefighters, are likely. Nonetheless, several Hostens inhabitants were hesitant to leave their homes.

The Gironde wildfire is one of several that have erupted across Europe this summer, fueled by heatwaves that have cooked the continent and set records in certain locations.

In Portugal, over 1,200 firefighters are battling a blaze in the hilly Covilha area, some 280 kilometers (174 miles) northeast of Lisbon, that has burned over 3,000 hectares of forest since Saturday.

Spain and Greece have also had to deal with several fires in recent weeks.

Major wildfires ravaged the Gironde in July, destroying almost 20,000 hectares of woodland and forcing about 40,000 people to flee their homes.

Authorities suspect the latest fire was caused by prior flames that were still burning in the area’s peaty soil.

In the southern departments of Lozere and Aveyron, fires were also raging. Another fire has charred over 1,200 hectares in the Maine et Loire department of western France.

Source: Reuters


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