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The risk of new wildfires in southwestern France increases as the heatwave persists

French authorities fear that more fires could start in the southwest as a condition of the heatwave continues.



by Manuel Ausloos and Stephane Mahe

France’s SAINT-MAGNE (Reuters) – Even after an overnight respite kept a massive wildfire that has been raging for days in check, officials warned on Friday that high temperatures and a worsening drought meant a significant risk of fresh fires igniting in southwest France.

In order to assist France in battling the fire in the Gironde region, which is home to Bordeaux wine, as well as on other fronts, such as in Brittany in the northwest, firefighters from Germany, Romania, and Greece were already on the ground, and more were on their way.

Given the weather, the probability of fresh fires is “extremely severe,” according to the Gironde prefecture.

At a news conference, senior local official Ronan Leaustic stated: “The day is going to be problematic since temperatures continue to rise and humidity continues to fall, so clearly we stay watchful and mobilized.”


According to the official weather forecaster for France, Meteo France, temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) were predicted for the southwest of the country.

It was predicted that the heatwave, which is officially France’s third of the summer, would abate on Saturday and terminate on Sunday with storms.

Gironde’s woodlands have burned for around 7,400 hectares (18,000 acres), and 10,000 people have been evacuated.

This summer, as successive heatwaves baked the continent, wildfires erupted all over Europe, refocusing attention on the hazards that climate change poses to industry and people.

More than 1,600 firefighters and nine waterbombing aircraft were battling a massive wildfire that had scorched 15% of the Serra da Estrela national park during the night and into the next day in central Portugal.


The fire began on Saturday in the Covilha area and has now expanded to other nearby councils, consuming over 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) in total.

According to shipping operators and brokers, water levels on the German river Rhine have decreased once more, making some vessels unable to sail.

As the government, environmental regulators, and water firms gathered to discuss the protracted hot and dry weather, British householders were also being faced with new water usage restrictions, and certain areas of England were set to declare a drought.

Politicians from all around the continent are analyzing the consequences.

Pascal Martin, a moderate French lawmaker and former fireman, told Europe 1 radio, “This fire season this year is far from over.”


“Now, however, two lessons must be learned, namely that the fires are spreading both geographically and over time, no longer simply in the south but throughout the entire country, even in the Jura and in Brittany, and no longer just in the summer months,” said the author.

(Myriam Rivet, Manuel Ausloos, Stephane Mahe, Geert de Clercq, Farouq Suleiman, Andrei Khalip, and Michael Hogan contributed to the reporting; Ingrid Melander wrote the article; Alison Williams was responsible for editing.)