Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as wildfires continue to rage in southwestern France, authorities said late Friday.
By the end of the week, the heat wave is expected to extend north, with temperatures in southern France expected to match the 40 degree highs across the country.
In the south-western department of Gironde, several fires have already broken out in two major conflicts. One is thought to have been started deliberately, the Bordeaux public prosecutor’s office said.
During a visit to the Crisis Management Operations Center (COJIC) in Paris, President Emmanuel Macron announced that there would be a full “mobilization” of government services and assured the public that “we will continue to stay”.
For this reason, the second heat wave of the year, 16 departments of Météo-France are sitting on an orange heat wave until Sunday – the second highest level – from Alpes-de-Haute-Provence to Bordeaux.
On Friday afternoon, temperatures hit 35 degrees in Toulouse, 39.6 in Apt (Vaucluse department) and 39 degrees in Perpignan and Nîmes.
Temperatures will begin to rise slowly in the northern part of the country on Saturday afternoon and remain “very high” in the southern half, the weather agency said.
This increase will continue until Sunday, especially in the south-west, “temperatures of 40 ° C will be normal”.
Fires in the department of Gironde
“The temperature will reach exceptional levels on Sunday and Monday” Many absolute records are expected in western regions, especially on Monday, Meteo-France forecaster Olivier Proust told French news agency AFP.
In the south-western department of Gironde, 7,700 hectares of pine trees have been engulfed in smoke by two huge fires that have been burning since Tuesday without causing any damage.
One of the two Gironde fires is around the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux, where 4,200 hectares of forest have burned and roads have been closed. An additional 480 residents were also displaced, bringing the total number of evacuees in the area to nearly 1,000.
Another blaze, which has burned 3,100 hectares, was on the Atlantic coast near Pilat Dune – Europe’s tallest sand dune – in Arcachon Bay, where dark smoke was seen billowing into the sky.
Since Tuesday, more than 11,000 people have been evacuated from camps near Dune, as well as the city of Kazauze and a military camp.
Smoke from the wind-driven Gironde blaze could be seen as far away as Auch and large parts of Gers on Friday, with the smell of “burnt material” in the air, local firefighters said. .
Ash rain in Avignon
In Bouches-du-Rhone, some 680 firefighters have been on the front lines of a fire that has raged since Thursday in the Montaigne massif south of Avignon, where mistral winds have made firefighting efforts difficult.
An investigation has been launched to determine whether the fire was caused by a freight train.
“According to the testimony, this freight train caused sparks on several occasions,” Tarascon’s prosecutor said.
This is the second heat wave in a month and is putting a lot of pressure on firefighters recovering from the previous heat wave, said Gregory Allien, head of the French fire department in the region.
By the end of June, 1,800 hectares of forest had already burned in the military camp of Canjures (Var Department), 1,250 in the Pyrenees-Orientales and 650 in Cevennes (Guard Department) at the beginning of July.