France: Gironde forest fires, evacuations… Tourists are invited to avoid certain regions

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated since Tuesday.

DIn a very hot context in the southern half of the country, firefighters are still facing two aggressive forest fires in the Gironde, with more than 5,000 hectares burned and more than 10,000 people evacuated since Tuesday, and are now fighting a “virulent” fire near of ‘Avignon.



Four departments, including Vaucluse, joined on Thursday the seven, including Gironde, already placed on orange “heat wave” watch by Météo-France due to an intense heat wave, the second in a month, which has settled in France and should last until Tuesday.

This National Day was marked by high temperatures, up to 37/38ºC in the southwest and the lower Rhône valley. They were going to intensify on Friday south of a Bordeaux-Lyon line with values ​​close to 38ºC to 40ºC, but will decrease north of it. In many places, July 14 festivities have been adapted or even canceled due to heat and high fire risk. Therefore, all fireworks have been banned until Monday night in the Landes.

In neighboring Gironde, put on Thursday on red watch “forest fires”, the two fires that have raged since Tuesday, in La Teste-de-Buch (2,900 hectares burned), near Arcachon, and in Landiras (2,400 hectares), in the south of the department, they are not under control and will not be on Thursday night, according to the prefect Fabienne Buccio.

The two fires, which mobilized some 1,000 firefighters and ten planes, did not cause any fatalities. “The situation is unfavorable, with difficult terrain, wind, very hot,” said the prefect, asking vacationers not to approach the Dune du Pilat sector, backed by forest and closed to the public.

The wind that turned to the south in the early afternoon caused the evacuation of the 4,000 inhabitants of the town and the Cazaux military base, enveloped by a large column of smoke and ashes in suspension.

“Post-apocalyptic”

“I’ve never seen that and it really feels like it’s post-apocalyptic, it’s falling everywhere, on cars, it’s worrying,” Karyn, a resident, said just before the precautionary evacuation order.

According to Gironde fire director Marc Vermeulen, the priority for the night will be to protect properties and houses in Cazaux from the flames. However, two houses were destroyed and several are under threat, the prefecture said in the evening.

During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, 6,000 people had been evacuated from five campsites near the Dune du Pilat to an exhibition center. The vast majority have already left, said an AFP journalist, most have returned home or found accommodation elsewhere in this very touristy area. His return to the camp to collect his belongings remains “absolutely impossible”, however, declared the sub-prefect of Arcachon Ronan Léaustic.

In Landiras, a sparsely populated area, villages had to be evacuated on Thursday and the situation is “very unfavorable with several fire reactivations,” according to the prefecture.

South of Avignon, in the direction of Tarascon, a fire that started around 4:00 p.m. on a railway spread through a small calcareous massif, the Montagnette massif, covered mainly by pine trees and quickly covered about 1,000 hectares , burning at least 300 hectares, according to firefighters. Shortly after 4 a.m. on Friday, Bouches-de-Rhône firefighters said the blaze had been dealt with, but around 1,000 firefighters are still mobilized. According to the emergency services, there were no injuries.

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