Fires resume in Gironde: nearly 6800 hectares of forest have gone up in smoke
Steph Deschamps / August 12, 2022
Nearly 6,800 hectares of pine forest had gone up in smoke by Thursday morningafter the huge fire in Gironde, southwest France, broke out again on Tuesday afternoon, local authorities said. Nearly 10,000 people have been evacuated.
Nearly 1,100 firefighters are involved, added the prefecture of Gironde, adding that additional reinforcements were still expected on the scene.
The toll of this fire has increased by 600 hectares of pine trees burned during the night, bringing the total to 6800 hectares. We have fought all night, said Thursday morning Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Mendousse of the departmental fire and rescue service of Gironde. It is a fire that spread extremely quickly the first night, and that has progressed (tonight).
The drought is still raging in the region, and the scorching temperatures that should continue until Saturday and combine with very dry air create a very severe risk of fire outbreak, according to a statement from the prefecture, which refers to the vegetation and soil particularly dry after more than a month without rain.
Since Tuesday evening, 17 houses have been destroyed by the flames, but none last night, said the lieutenant-colonel.
Nearly 10,000 people have been evacuated, including 2,000 in the Landes department. Most of them have been rehoused and today, no other evacuation is envisaged for the moment, added Arnaud Mendousse.
Faced with the violent resumption of fires in Gironde, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced Wednesday the reinforcement of means that now include more than 1,000 firefighters, 9 aircraft and two water-bombing helicopters.
The A63 freeway from Bordeaux to Bayonne is cut off in both directions at the level of Saint-Geours-de-Maremme, the surrounding smoke representing a risk for users, and firefighters hope to use it as a means of defense (...) if the fire resumes its forward march.
The Regional Health Agency estimated in a statement that the impact of smoke released by the fire - and visible for several dozen kilometers around - was similar to that of an intense pollution peak, and recommended strongly to wear a protective mask.
The Gironde region was hit in mid-July by two out of the ordinary fires, one in Landiras, 40 km south of Bordeaux, the second in La Teste-de-Buch on the Arcachon basin, which burned a total of 20,800 hectares, leading to the evacuation of over 36,000 people.