Business

France summons European help to deal with spate of wildfires

European countries are helping France to fight fires raging across the country as the continent deals with a long drought and recurring heatwaves.

Poland, Germany, Austria, Greece and Romania have pledged to send firefighters, vehicles and equipment after France activated the EU’s civil protection mechanism. “Our partners are coming to help France as it faces the fires. Thank you to them. European solidarity is in play!,” wrote French president Emmanuel Macron on Twitter.

Eight fires across France have forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people, according to the latest information.

France’s Gironde department, which includes the city of Bordeaux, is dealing with the largest incident — a fire that originally started in July and has begun to rage again in recent days. Local authorities estimate that about 6,800 hectares have been burnt.

The European Commission said it had sent four planes from the EU’s firefighting aircraft fleet to France from Sweden and Greece. The commission will also use an EU satellite to help gather data about the burnt areas.

Germany is set to send 64 firefighters and 24 vehicles while Poland plans to send 146 firefighters and 49 vehicles.

“This fire season is particularly ferocious on our continent . . . the EU has full solidarity when a country is facing an emergency situation,” said Janez Lenarčič, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management.

France’s prime minister Élisabeth Borne and interior minister Gérald Darmanin visited Gironde, where about 1,100 firefighters have been deployed, on Thursday. “We have never mobilised so many resources to fight fires,” said Borne.

Weather conditions to tackle the fire are “particularly difficult” in Gironde, where it has not rained for more than a month, said local authorities. Temperatures were set to reach 40C on Thursday and remain high until the weekend.

Investigators are looking at whether any of the fires were started deliberately. “The fire spread on all sides, and with the rise in temperature we’ve seen a fire which exploded in certain areas,” Marc Vermeulen, who heads Gironde’s fire department, told reporters.

Borne said lessons would have to be drawn on how to help biodiversity and better adapt to climate change. Satellite data suggests that about 48,000 hectares of land have been burnt in France this year, compared with an average of around 7,000 hectares over the past 15 years. “We were absolutely not used to having fires in those regions,” said Borne.




Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button