Thousands of homes at risk as apocalyptic fires tear through southwest France | World News
They say it’s doomsday heat. In southwestern France, insatiable wildfires are ravaging forests and threatening thousands of homes.
As we walked towards the fire site, miles of trees were blacked out along the route – where life was once.
“Today is critical,” explains our official escort, Stephanie Martin from the Villenave-d’Ornon fire and rescue service.
“The problem is the wind. Right now we don’t know which way it will go.”
This year’s wildfires have been some of the worst in memory and they’re still out of control.
“How long do you think you’ll be here?” I ask.
“Two weeks at least, I think,” Stephanie replied.
The problem is not just sweltering temperature. Many of the fires were deep in the woods, where hundreds of firefighters tried to put out the flames.
A plane flying overhead drops flame retardant liquid on the ground below.
But we couldn’t stay to see – officials said it was too dangerous.
The wind has changed again and it’s time to leave because the fire could sweep our way at any moment.
Evacuations left streets and homes burned in the fire’s path, but not everyone heeded the warnings.
Local officials at the French Civil Protection Service received a call about a pensioner refusing to leave her animals behind.
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Teams were immediately dispatched to find her – to let her know the fire was coming.
But when we arrived, she didn’t budge.
“No! No, no, no,” the 86-year-old woman repeatedly told officials trying to convince her to come with them.
They say she can bring her pet dogs.
She replied that she had lived here her whole life and was not going anywhere.
She said she would die here.
The mayor and police arrive but she doesn’t change her mind.
In the end, all they could do was capture her details and tell her to block the door with a wet towel if she smelled smoke.
They said the firefighters would have to come and get her if the fire reached the village.
“I think it’s very dangerous because it means you have to have someone else come in while fighting the fire,” said Marion Levasseur, from the French Civil Protection.
Others in the area listened.
At a shelter nearby, we met some of the thousands of evacuees who had left their homes.
They grabbed what they could, packed up their pets, and drove off.
They don’t know when they can come back.
Fire is continuing to tear through southwestern France, and the battle is far from over.