South of France is ravaged by 'extremely violent' wildfiresAugust 10, 2022
South of France is ravaged by ‘extremely violent’ wildfires as Europe suffers through record two-month drought and temperatures hit 100F
- Since Tuesday the so-called Landiras blaze has burned 15,000 acres of pine forest and forced evacuations
- No one has been injured in the coastal area, but 16 houses were destroyed near the village of Belin-Beliet
- Officials warned the fire was heading towards a major motorway, and lowered the speed limit to 55mph
- The Landiras fire that ignited in July was the largest of several that have raged this year in southwest France
- It comes as Europe struggles through a record two-month drought that has seen several large wildfires
A wildfire that destroyed thousands of acres of tinder-dry forest in southwest France has flared again amid a fierce drought and the summer’s latest heat wave, officials said Wednesday.
Since Tuesday, the so-called Landiras blaze has burned 15,000 acres of pine forest and forced the evacuation of almost 6,000 people in an area already hit last month by huge blazes. No one has been injured in the coastal area that draws huge summer tourism crowds, but 16 houses were destroyed near the village of Belin-Beliet.
‘The fire is extremely violent and has spread to the Landes department’ further south, home of the Landes de Gascogne regional park, the prefecture said in a statement. Local authorities of the wine-growing Gironde department said 500 firefighters were mobilised.
The prefecture warned the fire was spreading toward the A63 motorway, a major artery linking Bordeaux to Spain.
Speed limits on the highway have been lowered to 55 mph in case smoke starts to limit visibility, and a full closure could be ordered if the fire worsens and continues to spread.
The Landiras fire that ignited in July was the largest of several that have raged this year in southwest France, which like the rest of Europe has been buffeted by record drought and a series of heat waves over the past two months.
Arsonists set some of the fires and officials initially suspected a criminal origin for the Landiras blaze. Police later released a suspect for lack of evidence.
Gironde official Martin Guespereau announced today the region would be cracking down on arsonists. ‘It’s about deterring them and catching them. We have the pressure of the weather, we don’t need the pressure of the arsonists,’ he said.
FRANCE: A wildfire that destroyed thousands of acres of tinder-dry forest in southwest France has flared again amid a fierce drought and the summer’s latest heat wave, officials said Wednesday. Pictured: The front of a wildfire is seen in Saint Magne, in the Gironde region of southwestern France, on Tuesday. A small village is seen in the foreground as the smoke rises
Since Tuesday, the so-called Landiras blaze has burned 15,000 acres of pine forest and forced the evacuation of almost 6,000 people in an area already hit last month by huge blazes. No one has been injured in the coastal area that draws huge summer tourism crowds, but 16 houses were destroyed near the village of Belin-Beliet
Pictured: Smoke rises from a forest fire near the town of Romeyer in the Diois massif located in the Drôme department and at the foot of the Vercors massif, Tuesday
Pictured: A firefighting plane sprays fire retardant chemicals over a forest in France as smoke rises into the air
Fires were also raging on Tuesday in other parts of the country.
One broke out in the southern departments of Lozere and Aveyron, where close to 600 hectares have already burnt and where Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is due to go later in the day.
Another fire is in the Maine et Loire department in western France, where 650 hectares have been scorched and 500 are threatened, according to local authorities.
The high temperatures are not helping firefighters battling another wildfire in the Chartreuse Mountains, near the Alps in eastern France, where authorities have evacuated around 140 people.
The regional firefighting coordination centre said it suspects arsonists are behind some of the ‘unlikely flare-ups’ of the blaze.
The Gironde in southwestern France was hit in July by two wildfires which destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forest and led to the evacuation of almost 40,000 people.
Elsewhere in Europe, a wildfire broke out Tuesday in dunes in the southern Dutch coastal province of Zeeland, forcing the evacuation of a vacation park, emergency services said.
The air force sent a helicopter to help firefighters tackle the blaze that started amid a long, dry summer that has caused a drought in the Netherlands. Searing temperatures and lack of rainfall have contributed to wildfires in many parts of Europe over the summer.
There were no reports of any injuries but authorities said the main coastal road was closed in the province that is packed with tourists throughout the summer.
Holidaymakers evacuated from the vacation park were advised to go to a nearby sports hall.
THE NETHERLANDS: A photograph shows the aftermath of a wildfire in the dune area near Brouwersdam in Ouddorp, The Netherlands on August 10, 2022, one day after a large wildfire raged through the area
Pictured: Blackened earth is seen from above in The Netherlands after a wildfire spread through near the Brouwersdam area
There were no reports of any injuries in wildfire in The Netherlands, but authorities said the main coastal road was closed in the province that is packed with tourists throughout the summer
France is in the midst of its fourth heatwave of the year as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record.
National weather agency Meteo France said the heatwave began in the south and is expected to spread across the country and last until the weekend. The southern half of France expects daytime temperatures of up to 40C and they will not drop below 20C during the night.
Meteo France said this week’s heatwave will not be as intense as the one last month when several regions experienced record-breaking temperatures.
But the high temperatures come during the most severe drought ever recorded, according to the government. Last month was the driest July since measurements began in 1959.
Some farmers have started to see drops in production especially in soy, sunflower and corn yields.
FRANCE: A firefighter sprays a hose as a fire burns in a forest near homes in Clefs-Val-D’Anjou, near La Fleche, western France on August 9, 2022. France is in the midst of its fourth heatwave of the year as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record – making fighting fires more challenging
A firefighter walks in front of trees in flame during a wildfire in Boyne, southern France, in the ‘Grands Causses natural park’
A firefighter stands by trees in flame during a wildfire in Boyne, southern France, in the ‘Grands Causses natural park’
A water bomber helicopter is mobilized against a major forest fire that broke out near the town of Romeyer in the Diois massif located in the Drôme department and at the foot of the Vercors massif, on Tuesday
A canadair firefighting plane drops water at a wildfire in Boyne, southern France, in the ‘Grands Causses natural park’
Pictured: Flames are seen ripping through trees next to a road connecting Le Massegros and Boyne, southern France, on August 9, 2022, as a wildfire spreads through the Grands Causses natural park
Pictured: A firefighter pulls a hose through burnt woodland in France’s Grands Causses natural park on Tuesday
Water restrictions range from daytime irrigation bans to limiting water usage to people, livestock and to keep aquatic species alive.
The government said last week that more than 100 municipalities could not provide drinking water through taps and needed water truck supplies.
The heat also forced energy giant EDF to temporarily cut power generation at some of its nuclear plants which use river water to cool reactors.
Water levels in rivers, lakes and reservoirs across western Europe are running low, or even dry, amid the severest drought in decades which is putting stress on drinking water supplies, hampering river freight and tourism and threatening crop yields.
France’s Doubs river should coarse through a forested canyon and cascade over waterfalls before spilling out into Brenets Lake, a draw for tourists in eastern France’s Jura region. But after months without meaningful rain, the river water has receded up the canyon and sluggishly reaches the lake in a narrow channel.
Pictured: A water dropping helicopter flies past a huge wall of smoke rising from a forest in southern France
Pictured: A firefighter stands in the middle of a road holding a hosepipe as smoke billows around him in France, Tuesday
Pictured: A child’s playhouse is seen in a garden, while flames rage in the woods behind it in France on Tuesday
Meanwhile, Spain’s national weather agency said the country has never had a month as hot as July in more than six decades. For the first time since records started in 1961, July registered an average temperature of 25.6C – 2.7C above the recorded average for any previous July.
The southern Andalusian town of Moron de la Frontera posted the highest temperature of the month with 46C on July 24. The north-west Galicia region posted a record 44C (111 F) in Ourense city.
The extreme heat and lack of rain has caused many wildfires and worsened drought in many areas.
The European Forest Fire Information System says 2022 has been the worst year so far in terms of scorched territory and the number of fires for Spain. The agency said 240,000 hectares have been razed by more than 370 fires.
Portugal’s weather service also said July was the hottest since national records began in 1931. The average temperature was 25.1C, almost 3C higher than the expected monthly average.
Britain’s weather service on Tuesday issued an amber ‘Extreme Heat’ warning for parts of England and Wales, with no respite in sight from hot dry conditions that have sparked fires, broken temperature records and strained the nation’s infrastructure.
A fire-fighting plane floes above smoke arising from burning vegetation in Mostuejouls, on August 9, 2022
Pictured: Flames and smoke rise from dry woodland in in Saint Magne, in the Gironde region of southwestern France, Tuesday
Pictured: A firefighting vehicle drives up a smoke-covered road in southwestern France on Tuesday
Pictured: Firefighting vehicles drive through the smoke in southwestern France on Tuesday
Conditions for rivers have deteriorated across Europe as multiple heatwaves roll across the continent.
In Germany, cargo vessels cannot sail fully loaded along the Rhine, a major artery for freight, and along Italy’s longest river, the Po, large sandbanks now bake in the sun as water levels recede sharply.
In July, Italy declared a state of emergency for areas surrounding the Po, which accounts for more than a third of the country’s agricultural production.
In Spain, farmers in the south fear a harsh drought may reduce olive oil output by nearly a third in the world’s largest producer. In France, which like Spain has had to contend with recent wildfires, trucks are delivering water to dozens of villages without water.
On the Doubs River, fewer boat tourists means fewer meals to serve for restaurateur Christophe Vallier – a painful blow just as he hoped to recover from the COVID-19 downturn. And he sees little cause for hope in the future.
‘All the Doubs experts say the river is getting drier and drier,’ Vallier lamented.
Experts blame climate change for the soaring temperatures in Europe – and warned that worse is yet to come.
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