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Residents and tourists evacuated as wildfires rage in south-west France

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Residents and tourists evacuated as wildfires rage in south-west France
(Photo: Thibaud Moritz / AFP)

More than 6,500 people have been evacuated from villages and campsites in south-west France as firefighters battle to bring two raging wildfires under control

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Some 600 firefighters are battling two large forest fires in the Gironde département, around Bordeaux, that have destroyed more than 1,700 hectares of land and forced the evacuation of more than 6,500 people.

 

The fires, south of Bordeaux, started on Tuesday, near the communes of Landiras, in the south of the Gironde, and at La Teste de Buch on the south shore of Arcachon Bay.

 

The Landiras blaze had destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of pine forest, local official Fabienne Buccio confirmed on Wednesday morning. “The front extends over five kilometres,” she told journalists. 

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Smoke from the fire is visible from the Bordeaux ring road.

READ ALSO What to do if you see a wildfire in France

 

 

But, Buccio said: “It's not a megafire. We are not overwhelmed. No one has been injured and no houses affected,” adding that 300 firefighters from other areas have been brought in to help tackle the flames.

A total 500 residents were evacuated overnight from five hamlets and the village of Guillos and taken to shelter in the villages of Louchats and La Brède. 

 

 

Authorities have closed a number of roads in the area, notably the RD115 between Guillos and Landiras, the RD220 between Guillos and Origne, the RD125 between Guillos and Landiras.

Meanwhile, a shift in the wind at 1am on Wednesday prompted authorities battling the blaze at La Teste to order the evacuation of five campsites near the Dune du Pilat.

 

Some 6,000 people were taken to the resort’s parc des expositions and a local supermarket, while 100 motorhomes were moved to the resort of Biscarrosse in the neighbouring Landes département.

“Access [to the fire] is difficult, so we are following the fire, which is still evolving,” fire commander Laurent Dellac told journalists early on Wednesday.

READ ALSO ‘Be vigilant’: The parts of France braced for forest fires this summer

The departmental road D218 is closed between the roundabout of Pilat and Biscarrosse plage.

A total of 200 firefighters and 95 vehicles, with reinforcements from Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, were mobilised overnight to combat the blaze, which has consumed more than 700 hectares of forest.

Président of the Département de la Gironde Jean-Luc Gleyze told regional newspaper Sud Ouest: "All the factors were there to aggravate the fire: heat wave, exceptionally dry low vegetation, swirling winds. 

“It is to be hoped that the intervention of the Canadairs will stabilise the front. Firefighters arrive as reinforcements throughout France.

READ ALSO 1,000 firefighters battle ‘mega-fire’ in southern France

National weather forecaster Meteo-France placed Gironde - along with Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Tarn, Haute-Garonne, Ardèche and Drôme - on orange heat wave alert on Wednesday. 

 

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