LA TEST DE BUCHES, FRANCE – More than 2,000 firefighters from across France were battling raging bushfires on Tuesday that burned nearly 80 square miles of dry forest in the southwest Gironde region and forced more than 37,000 people to evacuate. past weeks.
In the small town of La Teste-de-Buch, near the popular holiday destination in the Bay of Arcachon, the temporary firefighting headquarters was crowded. Fire trucks raced back and forth as helicopters and water-dropping planes hovered overhead as officers reviewed color maps of the flames.
The efforts of the firefighters were hampered by strong winds, arid conditions and burning trees that spread burning embers in the air, spreading flames. Matteo Gumin, a spokesman for the regional fire unit, described it as an “explosive cocktail.”
By evening, authorities were cautiously optimistic that firefighters had brought the fires under control. Fabian Puccio, a senior local official, told reporters that the fires had made “much less” progress than in previous days, as cooler temperatures and higher humidity helped firefighters contain them.
Huge clouds of gray and red smoke that billowed from the fires all the way to Bordeaux, about 30 miles northeast, on Tuesday. There was a smell of fire in the air there, and health authorities recommended residents – especially those at risk, such as those with respiratory illnesses – to stay indoors and limit intense physical activity.
Another bushfire broke out in the interior near the town of Landeras. “The situation remains very unfavorable” in the area, local authorities said in a statement on Tuesday, as firefighters were battling flames through the night and many roads were closed.
At the firefighting base in La Teste-de-Buch, trucks cut down vegetation to clear an area of land and create a natural barrier to the fire. In another area, firefighters dumped white sand for almost a mile stretch.
Vincent Ferrier, a local official in Langon in the Gironde region, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the fire had settled in its north but could spread to the south due to changing winds.
“We are trying to anticipate what comes next,” he said.
Only a few buildings have been damaged or destroyed by the fire, and no deaths have been recorded so far. Authorities have evacuated thousands of vacationers and residents who were not immediately threatened but who may be in the path of the fire.
“This is a strategy we have adopted from the beginning” to avoid the panicked last-minute rush to flee, Ronan Leustic, a local official in Arcachon, told reporters on Tuesday.
Nearly half of the displaced were evacuated on Monday, when flames jumped and thick smoke billowed near Arcachon Bay, a tourist site popular with oysters and sandy beaches that attracts hundreds of thousands of vacationers each summer.
The fire destroyed five sites around sand dunes close to dunes in Europe. Authorities closed access to the Dune du Pilat and traffic jams blocked the entrance to Arcachon Bay after parts of the motorway to Bordeaux were closed to facilitate evacuations, upending the plans of thousands as France’s summer holiday season begins in full swing.
La Teste-de-Buch lead Patrick Davitt warned Tuesday that fire was “an enemy that never sleeps, moves, and gives you no respite.”
“The fire has been contained in some places, but it is not yet under control,” El-Sayed said. Davit For BFMTV News Channel.
The Bassin d’Arcachon Zoo in La Teste-de-Buch has begun evacuating the animals as the fire came dangerously close to the facility.
The French government said in a statement that zoo staff and veterinarians from across the country worked tirelessly “to extract as many animals as possible, until the last minute, while the nearby forest was on fire.”
About 10 of the 850 animals in the zoo died due to heat and stress, but 363 of them – all those that could be transported easily – were safely evacuated. Most of them were transported in specially designed boxes and trucks to a nearby zoo on the outskirts of Bordeaux.
The French Association of Zoos said in a statement that about 380 animals were kept in the zoo for “safety reasons”.
Prosecutors in Bordeaux who are investigating two major fires this week said the fires started on July 12, but in a very different way.
Frederic Porterey, Bordeaux’s chief prosecutor, said in a statement that the fire broke out in La Teste-de-Bouchie after a camp employee’s pick-up truck broke down and caught fire, causing a fire that quickly spiraled out of control.
But investigators suspect that the second fire, in Landeras, was deliberately started. Ms. Porterey said in her statement that an eyewitness saw a car speeding away from the site of a fire in the area.
Police have detained a 39-year-old man in connection with the case. The Bordeaux attorney general’s office said Tuesday that the man, who lives in Gironde County, was previously suspected of arson in the summer of 2012, but no charges were brought due to a lack of evidence.
Constant Mihot I mentioned from La Teste-de-Buch and Aurelien Briden from Paris.