Wildfires rage across France, Spain and Portugal amid intense heatwave
Firefighters struggle to contain blazes that have burnt through tens of thousands of hectares
Strong winds and hot, dry weather frustrated French firefighters’ efforts to contain a huge wildfire that raced across pine forests in the Bordeaux region for a fifth day on Saturday.
This is one of several wildfires creating destruction in parts of Europe this week.
Some of the worst fires have been in Portugal, where the pilot of a firefighting plane died on Friday when his plane crashed while on an operation in the north-east. It was the first fire fatality in Portugal this year but the blazes have injured more than 160 people this week and forced hundreds to be evacuated.
Fire season has hit parts of Europe earlier than usual this year, after an unusually dry, hot spring that left the soil parched and which authorities attribute to climate change.
As the worst French fire moved closer to towns, the 11,000 people who evacuated in the region feared for the homes.
Firefighters were surrounding villages at risk and save as many homes as possible, said Charles Lafourcade, who is overseeing the French firefighting operation.
About 3,000 firefighters backed by water-dumping planes are battling the blazes in southern France, with Greece sending firefighting equipment to help.
French firefighters managed to contain one of the worst fires overnight, near the Atlantic coast resort of Arcachon, the regional emergency service said Saturday.
But it said “tough meteorological conditions” thwarted efforts to contain the biggest fire in the region, which started in the town of Landiras, south of a valley of Bordeaux vineyards. Regional prosecutors suspect arson.