Economic Insider

Thousands of Hectares of Forest Damaged by Wildfires, France Needs More Firefighters

Just two weeks after two major fires inflicted damage on more than 20,000 hectares of forest in the same area, the Gironde region in southwest France experienced another destructive fire on Wednesday. The French government was prompted by this to contact businesses and request that they dispatch volunteer firefighters to be on call during August.

Authorities have long warned people that these occurrences will become more prevalent as heat waves become more common throughout Europe. As experts anticipate more potential fires to be lit in August, businesses have requested volunteers to prepare. The issue, which has been getting worse since June, has been made worse by the drought conditions.

Gerald Darmanin, the French Interior Minister, visited one of the fire department’s offices in Aveyron, which is located in the South of France, and told the press, “We are getting to a point of exhaustion for the firefighters.”

Seventy-nine percent of the 250,000 firemen who have joined up with the French Fire Fighter Service are volunteers, according to the organization. Currently, more than 10,000 firemen have been sent to battle the wildfires that are raging around France. Companies have recently called for more people to help put out fires that have damaged France’s vegetation.

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The Gironde fire damaged thousands of hectares

The Gironde fire broke out on Tuesday. When the fire was close to reaching communities, many people fled to the nearest safe refuge area. According to a recent count by authorities, over 10,000 residents have fled their homes to avoid the fires. Martin Guesperau, the deputy commissioner for defense and security for the Nouvelle-Aquitaine prefecture, said that the Gironde fire damaged over 6,000 hectares of forest.

The prefecture further announced that the key A63 roadway between Bordeaux and Bayonne would be closed because of the fire. It has now reached the Landes department and is a highly virulent fire, he continued.

According to a press release from those in charge of the situation, sixteen homes were affected by the fire. Thankfully, there have been no reported fatalities or injuries. However, the weather is currently highly unfavorable, and authorities warned the press that “We are entering a difficult day with very high risks.”

There are more wildfires occurring across the country

Besides the Gironde fire, three additional wildfires in the south of France are also being fought at the same time, according to French officials. In order to speak with the Gironde fire victims about potential relief and resolution, French Minister Elisabeth Borne visited the area.

The French government wants to make it apparent to its citizenry that they can count on them for support during emergencies and at all other times.

Temperatures could reach 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, in the southern part of France, according to weather agency predictions.

Over 63% of the UK and EU’s land is under extreme drought warnings and signals, as reported by the European Drought Observatory of the European Union. The continent could experience more wildfires and scorching conditions as the weeks go by.

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The region the EU claims to cover is bigger than the three largest US states combined—Alaska, Texas, and California—and is almost as vast as India. In addition, the EU’s climate monitoring agency, Copernicus, stated that the region would experience cloudless weather over the coming several days.

“This new heatwave is associated with a robust high-pressure figure causing cloudlessness over much of western Europe,” said Copernicus in a statement.

“According to the national weather services, air temperatures between 9 and 14 August could again exceed 44°C (111.2 Fahrenheit) in Spain, 40°C (104 Fahrenheit) in France, 35°C (95 Fahrenheit) in the south of the United Kingdom and 30°C (86 Fahrenheit) in the Netherlands.”

“Then you combine that with the lack of rainfall — and for some parts of Europe, there’s been below average rainfall now for 15 or 16 months — there’s been a very prolonged period of dry weather, and so rivers and reservoirs have got down to very, very low levels,” Liz Bentley, the chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said.