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European firefighters rush to France’s aid as wildfires rage | DW | 11.08.2022

Firefighters from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria and Romania are being sent to France to fight a blaze south of Bordeaux that has reignited after being brought under control two weeks ago, the European Commission announced on Thursday.

The deployment, at France’s request, was hailed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who wrote on Twitter: “Thank you. European solidarity is at work!”

France has also requested data from the EU’s Copernicus satellite on burned areas, according to the commission.

Germany has sent a specialized unit of firefighters from Bonn, Düsseldorf, Leverkusen, Königswinter and Ratingen to France, according to the western city of Bonn. Firefighters from the state of Lower Saxony are accompanying them.

France is also to receive four firefighting aircraft currently stationed in Greece and Sweden.

What is the fire situation in France?

Some 1,100 emergency workers are already fighting the flames in the southwestern Gironde region for a third day.

Some 10,000 people in the region have been forced to leave their homes, and 6,800 hectares (26 square miles) of land have been destroyed.

“It’s an ogre, a monster,” said Gregory Allione from the French firefighter body FNSPF.

France’s Environment Minister Christophe Bechu told the newspaper Liberation on Thursday: “What we have experienced here is unprecedented.” 

Flames burning in a forest

The fire has forced thousands to evacuate their homes

In a tweet, Macron said 10,000 French firefighters and civil protection workers were currently battling fires across the country.

Several large forest fires have also hit France’s northern regions this summer as the country experiences a particularly bad fire season amid often abnormally high temperatures.

According to EU figures, more than 57,000 hectares of land has burned so far this year, compared to around 30,000 hectares in 2021.

Climate scientists say such fires, and droughts such as the current one affecting France, will become more and more common as the Earth warms because of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by industry and other human activities.

Fires are currently also raging in Spainand Portugal.

tj/wmr (AFP, Reuters)

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