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Homes destroyed as south-west France wildfire reignites overnight

The fire near Landiras (Gironde) is spreading rapidly. The A63 motorway is being closed due to the smoke. Firefighters say they face a day of ‘high risk’

The fire in Landiras which was finally contained in late July after burning for at least 10 days has restarted as a result of two new blazes in the area Pic: Flommer / Shutterstock

[Update August 10 at 14:35 - There are currently more than 1,000 firefighters at the scene, as well as nine firefighting planes and two helicopters.]

A historic wildfire in the department of Gironde which had been contained in late July has reignited burning 6,000 hectares of land overnight (August 9-10) and destroying 16 houses. 

The Landiras fire, which first began to the south of Bordeaux on July 12, ravaged over 13,000 hectares of land and required thousands of firefighters to work for 10 days to stop its spread. 

Authorities believe that the fire may have been started deliberately, although a man who was arrested on suspicion of arson was later released without charge and ruled out of the investigation.

There was always a fear that the flames would start up again, and this is what happened last night when two fires began within around 20km of each other, one around Cabanac and the other around Hostens. 

The former has now been brought under control, but the latter is “very violent” and has spread southwards into Landes, and is currently headed towards the A63 motorway. 

Authorities first reduced the speed limit to 90km/h, and are now closing the road as smoke from the fire is reducing visibility.

This blaze has destroyed 16 houses in the village of Belin-Béliet in Gironde. No resident injuries have been reported. 

No homes have been affected in Landes, but two of the department’s firefighters have sustained mild injuries.

Some 3,800 people have been evacuated from Belin-Béliet, Saint-Magne and Hostens in Gironde, and 215 from Landes, with further operations taking place this morning to move 2,000 people away from the scene.

One father of five forced to leave the house he constructed himself said: "I built it from the foundations to the roof so it is a huge part of my life. I have put everything into it." 

Today’s dry, hot weather is creating a “high risk” situation for firefighters, authorities have said. 

Mayor of Landiras, Jean-Marc Pelletant, said: “This is a relentless fight which has lasted for more than a month now. Volunteers are growing tired. Storms are forecast at the end of the week, so we are really counting on that.

“Since the [July] fire was contained, there have been resurgences every day,” he added. Firefighters have normally been able to put them out, but yesterday, “one restarted fire crossed the road and reached the forest which had been spared.”

Elsewhere in France, a fire in Drôme has destroyed 286 hectares, and 3,000 campers have had to be evacuated in Aveyron because of a blaze which has burnt 700 hectares of vegetation and is still spreading.

Read more: Brittany, Dordogne, Isère: evacuations as new wildfires hit France

Another fire in Maine-et-Loire, which began between Angers and Le Mans (Sarthe) on Monday (August 8) has burnt 1,240 hectares of land.

Around 70 people have been evacuated from the area, and the work of firefighters is being complicated by the presence of World War Two explosives at an old munitions storehouse. 

Related articles 

3,000 people evacuated as wildfire spreads in southern France

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Trapped, injured or fleeing: the animals caught in France’s wildfires

Second volunteer firefighter arrested over fires in south of France

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