As temperatures tackle any semblance of normalcy during post-pandemic life, wildfires in France continue to force more than 24,000 people to flee their homes, with emergency shelters set up for evacuees. Experts are defining this record-breaking heatwave as a ‘heat apocalypse’ and have gone to Twitter to spread the word, where the heat has yet to reach.
Blazes in Spain, Portugal, and Greece have forced thousands more to flee. With school closures and days off from work in many parts of Europe, the end of the record-breaking heat seems far off. As many brace for harsher temperatures, France continues to burn to the ground.
Since last Tuesday, firefighters have been trying to contain a fire that broke out in the southwest tourist site of Gironde, where over 14,000 hectares (34,000 acres) of land have been and continue to get engulfed in the flames of climate change.
On Sunday, France issued red alerts for several areas, urging locals to “be particularly attentive.” By Monday, France braced for what it called the ‘peak’ temperatures, noting that it could be the hottest day ever to be recorded in France as wildfires intensified throughout the country’s western and southern regions.
Yesterday, local officials headed many from leaving their houses, encouraging all to stay home. According to a tweet from the local state prefecture posted Monday morning, the area’s fires had burned through 14,000 hectares (34,595 acres) of land, while the tweet also made mention of some casualties that were a result of the fire.
Scorching temperatures emptied the once-crowded Atlantic coast beaches along the tall Pyla sand dune in Arcachon, only being used by observers to watch firefighters seize the blaze. Watchers could see thick clouds of smoke as wildfires continued to expand with the help of strong winds and high temperatures.
However, BBC reports that although there seems to be one primary hotspot, there also appears to be endless blips of fire everywhere where vacationers abandoned campsites just days ago. The reports claim that initially, all one sees are seemingly contained clouds of smoke. But, the deeper into the woods they went, the more fires raged.
There were reports of “endless pockets of fire on the side of the road,” while reports of burning trees and firefighters seeming to fight an endless blaze were also made. Firsthand accounts also mention six water bombers being used to combat the raging fires further.
The Interior Ministry announced Sunday that three additional water-bombing planes were joining the current six. But due to continuously changing winds, France also announced its plans to evacuate more towns and move out 3,500 people at risk of finding themselves in the path of the raging flames.
The Interior Ministry added that more than 200 firefighters were added to their force of 1500 fighters battling both night and day to not only keep the flames from spreading through the Gironde region’s tinder-dry pine forests but also kill the flames.
Killing the flames seems to be a near impossible feat due to the dryness of the pine, the raging heat, and the ever-changing direction of the wind. These three factors continue to spread the flames.