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In France, towards the beginning of a lull in the fires with the end of the heat wave

The weather will remain very hot on Saturday in France, but the arrival of a stormy disturbance from the Southwest should facilitate the work of the firefighters, still mobilized against the fires in Gironde.

The heat will continue to rage on Saturday August 13 over a large part of France, before the arrival in the evening of thunderstorms and rain from the west, bad weather which could help firefighters still fighting fires in Gironde and in the Landes.

Eighteen departments are on orange alert, including 16, from the south-west to Finistère, on heat wave orange alert. But this heat wave should end on Sunday, with thunderstorms over most of France. The two departments of Corsica are placed in storm orange vigilance from Saturday.


However, the impact of thunderstorms on ongoing fires remains difficult to predict, in particular due to the risk of strong gusts which can be problematic for firefighters.

A month after the two gigantic fires of Landiras and Teste-de-Buch in Gironde, the resumption of fire of “Landiras-2”, as the firefighters call it, has not progressed for more than 48 hours after having ravaged 7,400 hectares of pines.

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Friday evening, the inhabitants of certain sectors of the Landes municipalities of Moustey and Saugnac-et-Muret were authorized to return to their homes, and, on this Saturday classified as “red” by Bison Futé, the authorities decided to reopen the A63, which connects Bordeaux to Spain, closed since Wednesday on a portion of 20 km.

But “the fire is still active on the west side”, warned the prefect of Gironde Fabienne Buccio, recalling that a thousand firefighters were still mobilized, supported by German and Romanian colleagues, bridgeheads of a contingent of 361 fire soldiers, also including Poles and Austrians.

Record year for the EU

“Here, we are all volunteers. We are trained, we want to help,” confided Tone Neuhalfel, a 36-year-old German firefighter who said he faced a “very impressive” fire and incomparable to those he had already seen in Germany.

At the Mérignac air base, near Bordeaux, two Italian Canadairs and 2 Greek Canadairs arrived on Friday morning. “We are happy because we know we are helping you, friends,” said Commander Anastasis Sariouglou, 36, who is on his first mission in France.

In Hostens, in Gironde, where the PC had taken on the air of a Spanish inn, the head of the detachment, Romanian Colonel Cristian Buhaiànu, assured that his 77 firefighters – uniforms with red straps, caps and flocked ‘pompierii’ trucks – were “ready to to go into the field”, soon joined by 21 Polynesian fire soldiers.

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“They arrive from the other side of the world to come and support their comrades who are fighting the flames in Gironde: thank you to our firefighters in Polynesia for their solidarity. Mauruuru!” (thank you in Tahitian), tweeted President Emmanuel Macron in the afternoon.

In France, three times more hectares burned than the annual average of the last ten years, and the year is record in the European Union since the beginning of the records in 2006.

Even the Jura, with its normally more moderate climate, was hit by two fires.

In Brittany, a fire destroyed nearly 300 hectares on Friday in the Brocéliande forest west of Rennes. At the end of the afternoon, he was “two-thirds contained” according to the prefect of Morbihan, Pascal Bolot.

Drought

In Ardèche, the fire, which ravaged at least 320 hectares, has been “fixed”, the department prefecture announced on Friday afternoon, adding that 150 to 200 firefighters remained mobilized.

Faced with this “exceptional” situation, several large French companies – Carrefour, Orange, EDF, Axa, Auchan and GRDF – have taken measures to facilitate the release of their volunteer firefighters, responding to the call of the Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin.

Friday evening, the minister also asked the prefects to “be particularly vigilant” or even to cancel the traditional fireworks of August 15 because of “increased risk of fires”.

The rainfall, expected from Saturday evening, will be insufficient to remedy the historic drought that the country is going through, warned Météo-France, after a month of July where less than one centimeter of rain fell on average.

Storms “will fall on very dry soil, with fairly significant risks of runoff” which do not allow water to be absorbed and increase the risk of flooding “and the risk of hailstones”, warned Claire Chanal. , forecaster, during a press briefing on Friday evening.

Over a large part of France, it is forbidden to water and 73 prefects have even banned water withdrawals from farmers in all or part of their departments.

With AFP