French firefighters were battling two huge wildfires last week that tore through 55 square kilometers of dry pine forest in southwestern France and forced the evacuation of nearly 16,000 people.
Around 1,700 firefighters from around France were deployed in the Gironde region, a coastal area around Bordeaux, to control the blaze. About 12 people suffered minor injuries.
“We have never had two fires in the same room,” said Marc Vermeulen, fire chief in Gironde. He told French Info radio. On Monday, firefighters said they had to put out 20 or more new fires every day.
Black smoke filled the sky as water tankers plunged into the ocean on Monday, flying back and forth to fill their tanks with water to fight the two fires.
The fire caused no fatalities and caused minimal damage to buildings.
But local authorities were bracing for the worst on Monday as the heat wave could hit in full force, and ordered an additional 8,000 people to evacuate towns under fire.
“The situation is serious, mainly because the weather is not favorable for us,” said Vincent Ferrier, a local authority in Langone, in the Gironde region.
Mr. Ferrier pointed to several factors working against firefighters: high temperatures, a lack of moisture and strong, variable winds that thwarted firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze and blew embers through dry forest patches that could start a second blaze.
“This is a fire that continues to spread,” he said. “We have to constantly adjust.”
One of the fires is near La Teste-de-Buch, south of Arcachon Bay, a popular holiday destination with sandy beaches and dozens of campsites popular with tourists in the summer.
Many vacationers have been forced to leave in the past few days. Fifty people slept overnight in makeshift shelters set up in gymnasiums or recreation centers, local officials said Monday.
The second fire near Landras burned down charred tree trunks and soil.