French wildfires continue: 7,000 hectares burnt, buildings damaged

The fires continue to burn in Gironde, but another fire which destroyed 300 hectares in south-east France has now been contained

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[Update July 15 at 15:35 - The Gironde fires have now burnt 7,650 hectares and destroyed at least seven buildings. More than 11,000 people have been evacuated.]

The two wildfires which have been raging across the department of Gironde since Tuesday (July 12) have now destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of land and at least two buildings.

One fire has burnt 3,000 hectares, a house and a restaurant around La Teste-de-Buch, which is near popular tourist attraction the Dune du Pilat.

The two buildings were in the village of Cazaux, whose whole population of 4,000 was evacuated yesterday (July 14), after more than 6,000 campers were moved away from the area on Wednesday.

The fire has reached the village’s port, but no boats have been affected at this stage according to firefighters.

The other blaze has covered 4,200 hectares of land around Landiras and Guillos, to the south of Bordeaux, but no homes have been affected. At least 500 people were evacuated from hamlets in this area on Wednesday as a preventative measure.

Around 10 Canadair and Dash planes continued carrying out water drops until nightfall yesterday, but both fires are still spreading at this stage.

The risk of wildfires is very high across the whole department, with three smaller fires having sprung up – and been contained – to the north of Blayais yesterday.

Fabienne Buccio, Gironde’s prefect, has called for the population to remain vigilant.

Around 1,000 firefighters have been deployed once again today (July 15) to tackle the flames.

It is believed that the Teste-de-Buch fire began when a lorry was either involved in an accident or broke down on a road through the forest, and caught fire.

The cause of the Landiras blaze is not yet known.

Another fire in Bouches-du-Rhône

Another 1,000 firefighters are currently mobilised in Bouches-du-Rhône, where a fire has covered 1,000 hectares of forest and completely burnt 300 on the Massif de la Montagnette.

The fire has now been contained and is no longer spreading, fire and rescue crews have said.

No one has been hurt by the fire, which began around 17:00 yesterday, but nearly 170 people were evacuated and taken to local community halls and gymnasiums.

Lucien Limousin, the mayor of nearby town Tarascon, has said that the blaze was caused by a “freight train” which “created sparks” when braking, setting fire to the vegetation along the side of the tracks.

The smell of the smoke was perceptible 20km away in Avignon, where ash was seen falling from the sky.

Heatwave alerts maintained in south of France

Some 11 departments remain under orange heatwave alerts today, as temperatures of 35-38C are expected in the south of France, and 39-40C more locally.

Read more: Alert: Orange heatwave warning extended to 11 French departments

The departments are: Gard, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Vaucluse, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ardèche and Drôme.

A further 28 departments in the west and south east of France are also under yellow warnings for high temperatures.

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