More than 1,000 firefighters battling huge wildfire in France as 10,000 people evacuated

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More than 1,000 firefighters are struggling to contain a huge wildfire that has destroyed a large area of pine forest in southwest France.

Around 6,800 hectares (26 square miles) in the Gironde region and neighbouring Landes have been burnt by the blaze, which began on Tuesday.

At least 16 houses have also been destroyed, and emergency services have forced around 10,000 people to evacuate the area.

Photographs released by firefighters showed flames raging through pine forests, sending clouds of smoke in the air and illuminating the sky with intense orange light.

This photo provided by the fire brigade of the Gironde region SDIS 33, (Departmental fire and rescue service 33) shows firefighters tackling a blaze near Hostens, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (SDIS 33 via AP)
This photo provided by the fire brigade of the Gironde region SDIS 33, (Departmental fire and rescue service 33) shows firefighters tackling a blaze near Saint-Magne, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (SDIS 33 via AP)

It comes after the region was ravaged by flames last month and as France tackles its fourth heatwave following its worst drought ever.

“The conditions are particularly difficult: the vegetation and the soil are particularly dry after more than a month without rain,” local officials said in a statement.

“The scorching temperatures are expected to continue until Saturday and combine with very dry air to create very severe fire risk conditions.”

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On Thursday, temperatures were due to reach 40C (104F) across the region.

Four firefighting planes, based in Sweden and Greece, have been sent to the country by the European Commission to help put out the blaze.

Read more: Swifts nearly baked alive, sparrows stuck to tarmac, and hedgehogs orphaned – the destruction caused by France’s fourth heatwave

A view of a house and a car destroyed by fire in Belin-Beliet, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 11, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Nine other aircraft and two helicopters have also been mobilised.

Commission spokesperson Miriam Garcia Ferrer also said firefighting teams from Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania were on their way to help French crews.

A view shows trees and vegetation burnt by a major fire in Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 11, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

“The EU continues to monitor the situation across Europe and stands ready to help the affected countries,” she added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and interior minister Gerald Darmanin are due to visit the evacuated small town of Hostens to meet crews, rescuers, local officials and volunteers.

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