'Extreme vigilance' at vast western France fire

Published August 12, 2022
<p>Firefighters embrace as they work to contain a fire in Saint-Magne, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 11. — Reuters</p>

Firefighters embrace as they work to contain a fire in Saint-Magne, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 11. — Reuters

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 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 since Tuesday.

Opinion

Editorial

Spy games
Updated 02 Oct, 2022

Spy games

The audios leaked so far appear to have been carefully curated: they apply pressure but do not do major damage.
‘Geopolitical football’
02 Oct, 2022

‘Geopolitical football’

THE US-China rivalry is by all measures one of the globe’s most dangerous competitions for power and influence. ...
Fuel price reduction
02 Oct, 2022

Fuel price reduction

ISHAQ Dar is back; so are his signature policies. The reduction of a little over 5pc in fuel prices announced by him...
Untruths and politics
Updated 01 Oct, 2022

Untruths and politics

It would arguably be in the national interest for the Supreme Court to take up the cipher and settle the matter.
Farmers’ protest
01 Oct, 2022

Farmers’ protest

SEVERAL hundred farmers have converged on Islamabad for the last three days to protest against the soaring costs of...
Dasht-i-Barchi bombing
01 Oct, 2022

Dasht-i-Barchi bombing

ON Friday morning, Kabul’s Dasht-i-Barchi neighbourhood was rocked by a terrorist attack targeting an educational...