Firefighters in France The forest fire in the sweltering heat

French firefighters faced two massive wildfires on Monday that ripped through 55 square miles of dry pine forest in southwestern France over the past week and forced about 16,000 people to evacuate.

About 1,700 firefighters from across France have been deployed across the Gironde, a coastal area around Bordeaux, to try to contain the raging blaze. About a dozen people suffered minor injuries.

Marc Vermeulen, fire chief in Gironde, said: “We have never experienced two fires of this magnitude in the same department. told Franceinfo đài on Monday, adding that firefighters must also prevent about 20 new fires from starting each day.

Thick plumes of black smoke blanketed the sky as bombers hovered overhead on Monday, flying back and forth to dip into the ocean and fill their tanks with water to fight off two flames. .

The fires did not cause any deaths and caused only minor damage to buildings.

But local authorities braced for the worst on Monday, as a heatwave is expected to hit the whole, and they announced orders to evacuate an additional 8,000 people from towns located on the outskirts of the city. in the fire zone.

Vincent Ferrier, a local official in Langon, an area of ​​Gironde, told reporters on Monday: “The situation is very critical, mainly because the weather is not favorable for us.

Mr. Ferrier assessed a number of things that have worked against firefighters: expected record temperatures in the area, lack of humidity and shifting strong winds have hampered firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze. firefighters and can start secondary fires by blowing embers into arid forests.

“This is a fire that is continuing to spread,” he said. “We have to constantly adjust.”

One of the fires was concentrated near La Teste-de-Buch, south of Arcachon Bay, a popular holiday destination for its sandy beaches and dozens of campsites popular in the summer.

Many holidaymakers have been forced to evacuate in the past few days. Fifty people slept in makeshift shelters set up in gyms or entertainment centers overnight, local authorities said Monday.

The second fire, located further inland, near Landiras, left burned tree trunks and scorched ground after burning.

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