Thousands evacuated from France’s Gironde as forest fires rage

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling a huge wildfire sweeping through the Gironde region of southwestern France.

A huge wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents was sweeping through the Gironde region of southwestern France on Wednesday.

More than 1,000 firefighters backed by water-bombing aircraft were fighting the fire that has razed more than 6,000 hectares (14,826 acres) and is still burning out of control.

France, like the rest of Europe, is struggling with successive heatwaves and its worst drought on record. Dozens of wildfires are ablaze across the country, including at least four other major ones.

Camille Delay fled her home town of Hostens on the orders of emergency services late on Tuesday with her partner and son as a wall of flames drew rapidly closer.

The couple grabbed their two cats, chickens and house insurance documents before taking flight, she said.

“Everyone in the village climbed onto their rooftops to see what was happening – within 10 minutes a little twist of smoke became enormous,” the 30-year-old told Reuters news agency by telephone.

France is struggling with successive heatwaves and its worst drought on record [SDIS 33 Service Audiovisuel via AP]

The local Gironde authority described the blaze as “rampant”. Firefighters said more evacuations were likely.

The Gironde was hit by major wildfires in July which destroyed more than 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) of forest and temporarily forced nearly 40,000 people from their homes.

Authorities believe the latest inferno was a result of the previous fires still smouldering in the area’s peaty soil.

Fires were also raging in the southern departments of Lozere and Aveyron. In the Maine-et-Loire department in western France, more than 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) have been scorched by another fire.

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