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Almost 700 firefighters battle new wildfire in France

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AFP/The Local France - [email protected]
Almost 700 firefighters battle new wildfire in France
This picture taken on July 26, 2022, showing flames rising from a forest fire in southern France. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP)

Nearly 700 firefighters were battling to contain a new wildfire in southern France on Tuesday that has already forced the evacuation of a village and burned through 1,000 hectares of forest and vineyards, local officials said.

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Residents in Aumelas, a settlement of 500 people 20km west of Montpellier, have been ordered to leave their homes as winds carry the flames towards them.

"In total nearly 500 firefighters are deployed," the local government said in a statement, adding that two aircraft were also dropping water on the blaze. By the night of Tuesday, July 26th that number had risen to 650 firefighters, as shown in a tweet from local authorities below:

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The head of communication for the local fire department, Jérôme Bonnafoux, told BFMTV on Wednesday morning that "the fire is progressing less quickly" and that a drop in temperature during the night helped turn the tide.

Nevertheless, caution remains the order of the day. According to Bonnafoux, two other fires have broken out in two other communes, requiring some forces to be diverted to those locations.

The surrounding Herault region was also hit by a relatively small wildfire last week and is considered at "high" or "very high" risk of fires after months of drought-like conditions and high temperatures.

Two huge blazes near Bordeaux in southwest France over the last fortnight destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forest and required around 2,000 firefighters to bring them under control.

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