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Firefighters from across Europe help France with monster fire
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 08 - 2022

Firefighters from across Europe have come to France's rescue on Friday to battle a massive wildfire, while fire also raged in Portugal and parts of England faced a severe drought, as successive heatwaves renewed the focus on climate change risks, Reuters reported.
Much of Europe has faced weeks of baking temperatures that have also depleted water levels of the Rhine River in Germany and seen the source of Britain's River Thames dry up further downstream than in previous years.
High temperatures and a worsening drought brought a high risk of new fires breaking out in Gironde, in southwestern France, local officials said, even after an overnight reprieve held in check the wildfire that has been burning for days, scorched thousands of hectares and displaced 10,000 people.
Firefighters from Germany, Romania, Greece and beyond were on the ground to help France battle the fire in the Bordeaux region as well as on other fronts, including in Brittany in the northwest.
More than 1,000 firefighters are battling a "monster" wildfire in southwestern France that has already destroyed about 7,400 hectares (18,286 acres) of forest, officials say.
"It's an ogre, it's a monster," firefighter representative Gregory Allione told France's RTL Radio. Strong winds and high temperatures are hampering the firefighting operation.
Sixty-five German firefighters have arrived from Bonn and others from Poland and Romania are expected in the fire zone soon.
"European solidarity at work!" President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
France has nine water-bombing helicopters deployed and is also getting some firefighting aircraft from Greece and Sweden.
The wildfire in France's Gironde region has been raging for two days near the small town of Landiras.
In the same area last month a wildfire burned 14,000 hectares before being contained. It was France's driest month since 1961.
This summer France and a number of other European countries have seen a wave of deadly wildfires, triggered by record temperatures and droughts across the continent.
More than 1,000 deaths have been attributed to the heat in Portugal and Spain.
A wildfire is now raging in the mountainous Serra de Estrela park in central Portugal, where 10,000 hectares of forest has been destroyed. The area is sparsely populated. About 1,500 firefighters are tackling the blaze.
In the UK, an amber extreme heat warning has now come into force, with temperatures forecast to hit 37C (99F) in some areas over the next four days. The heatwave will probably affect health, transport and working conditions, the authorities warn.
In France some firefighters had to be urgently redeployed from other regions to boost the ongoing Gironde operation. They are being backed by specialist aircraft dropping water and flame retardant.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin have arrived to the affected area to inspect the scale of the damage.
Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.
The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions. — Agencies


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