Photo Credit: Reuters
Just two weeks after two significant fires destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forest in the same area, the Gironde region in southwest of France experienced another destructive fire on Wednesday. This prompted the French government to contact businesses and request that they dispatch volunteer firefighters to be available throughout August.
Authorities have long issued warnings that the increased frequency of heat waves in Europe will increase the occurrence of these phenomena. As more potential fires are expected to start in August, businesses have requested volunteers to get ready. The issue, which has gotten worse since June, has been made worse by the current drought.
After visiting a fire department headquarters in Aveyron, a city in the South of France, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told the media, “We are getting to a point of exhaustion for the firefighters.”
79% of the 250,000 firefighters who have signed up with the French Fire Fighter Service are volunteers, the organization claimed. Just over 10,000 firemen have been sent to battle the wildfires now raging over France. But, in response to a recent business appeal, more people will be added to the effort to put out fires that have ravaged France’s greenery.
The fire that devastated Gironde
On Tuesday, the Gironde fire began. Numerous people fled to the closest place of safety when the fire came dangerously close to reaching neighborhoods. According to a recent count by the authorities, almost 10,000 individuals have left their homes to protect themselves from the fires. The Gironde fire has destroyed more than 6,000 hectares of woodland, according to Martin Guesperau, the deputy commissioner for defense and security for the Nouvelle-Aquitaine prefecture.
The prefecture added that the main A63 highway between Bordeaux and Bayonne would be closed as a result of the fire. He continued, “The fire is very virulent and has spread to the department of Landes.”
The fire has so far reached 16 homes, according to a press release from the authorities overseeing the incident. The good news is that no fatalities or injuries have been reported. However, as a result of the exceedingly adverse weather at the moment, authorities warned the press that “we are entering a difficult day with very high risks. The weather is extremely unfavorable at the moment.”
Wildfires are occurring in many parts of France
French officials claimed that in addition to the Gironde fire, they are also tackling three additional wildfires in the south of the country. Elisabeth Borne, the French Minister, visited the Gironde fire victims to discuss potential relief and settlement options.
The French government wants to make it known to its citizens that they are there during emergencies and that they can count on them for support at any moment.
The weather service predicted that the southern part of France would reach temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the European Drought Observatory of the European Union, approximately 63% of the UK and EU’s territory is currently under extreme drought warnings and signals. As the weeks go by, the continent may experience more wildfires and extremely hot weather.
The reported area by the EU is larger than the combined areas of Alaska, Texas, and California, the three largest US states, and is nearly the size of India. Additionally, the EU’s climate monitoring body, Copernicus, said that the region named by the observatory would experience cloudless weather over the coming few days.
“This new heatwave is associated with a robust high-pressure figure causing cloudlessness over much of western Europe,” said Copernicus.
“According to the national weather services, air temperatures between 9 and 14 August could again exceed 44°C (111.2 Fahrenheit) in Spain, 40°C (104 Fahrenheit) in France, 35°C (95 Fahrenheit) in the south of the United Kingdom and 30°C (86 Fahrenheit) in the Netherlands.”
“Then you combine that with the lack of rainfall — and for some parts of Europe, there’s been below average rainfall now for 15 or 16 months — there’s been a very prolonged period of dry weather, and so rivers and reservoirs have got down to very, very low levels,” stated the chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, Liz Bentley.
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