‘Extreme vigilance’ at vast western France fire

HOSTENS, FRANCE: A great fire has ravaged the southwestern lands France Local authorities said Friday was largely under control, but firefighters faced another “complicated” day.
40 km (25 mi) long active fire front in the surrounding Gironde and Landes departments Bordeaux “haven’t developed, but weather conditions are pushing us on high alert,” deputy governor Ronan Leaustic told reporters.
No new evacuations have been made, he added, of the 10,000 people who have been asked to leave.
But “today is likely to be complicated, as temperatures continue to rise and groundwater levels continue to fall,” Leaustic said.
About 1,100 French firefighters on the ground were reinforced on Thursday by 361 comrades drawn from neighboring European countries, including GermanyPoland, Austria and Romania, along with several water bombers from European Union fleet.
In the hard-hit area around the village of Hostens, the thick smoke seen on Thursday gave way to blue skies and occasional clouds, an AFP journalist said.
This summer, France was hit by a historic drought that forced nationwide restrictions on water use, as well as a series of heat waves that experts attribute to climate change.
The fire near Bordeaux broke out in July – the driest month witnessed in France since 1961 – destroying 14,000 hectares and forcing thousands to evacuate before it was contained.
But it continues to smolder in arid pine forests and peat-rich soils.
Officials suspect the arson may play some role in the latest outbreak, which has burned 7,400 hectares (18,000 acres) since Tuesday.

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