A massive wildfire has spread across southern France with more than 1,000 fighters tackling it


A large fire that burned 600 hectares (1,500 acres) and caused the evacuation of residents of southern Gard in France was fought by nearly 1,000 firefighters assisted by water-dropping planes.

The forest fire had been brought under control, but it would take days to extinguish.

Mega Fire in the South of France

(Photo: Mike Newbry/Unsplash)

The forest fire had been brought under control, but it would take days to extinguish, local authorities said on Friday.

The prefect of the Gard department, Marie-Françoise Lecaillon, said on Friday evening on BFM television that things are currently improving. The fire has been extinguished.

A senior fire official, Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Agrinier, added on Friday: “This fire is far from over. The fronts move freely in hard-to-reach areas that we haven’t covered. He later added, citing inclement weather, that it was going to be a feat of endurance.

Firefighters set up blowbacks to protect populated areas after the blaze broke out on Thursday evening.

Jacques Pages spoke in front of a line of flames which lit up the forest in absolute blackness.

“We are burning parts of the forest so that when the fire spreads it reaches what is already an area and slows down, making it easier to stop its progress,” he said, according to The Guardian.

Emergency personnel called the fire, which started near the village of Bordezac and forced rescue operations from Bessèges and other neighboring towns on Thursday evening, a mega-fire.

The area, located about 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Montpellier and the Mediterranean coast, required accommodation for around 100 people, according to the local prefect’s office.

On Friday, only a garage and a small hut remained damaged, and people’s homes were no longer in danger. Friday morning, the Gard firefighters reported 13 slightly injured firefighters.

Two planes have been dropping water since dawn in addition to ground personnel. The aerial deployment on Friday included 12 firefighting planes and two helicopters.

Roads leading to the Bessèges region were blocked and hundreds of firefighters – some dispatched from neighboring regions – remained at the scene.

Southeastern France has experienced drought this year, which has increased the risk of fires in much of the region.

Read more: A wildfire in the tundra progresses on an Alaska Native settlement

Drought increases the level of risk

Southeastern France has experienced drought this year, which has increased the risk of fires across much of the region, according to Phys.org.

About 600 hectares of land have been scorched in a blaze that started with the bombardment of an army artillery training range near Marseilles during an unusual heat wave last month.

Thursday, 35 homes in the Bouches-du-Rhône region required the intervention of firefighters, many of whom were near populated areas.

250 firefighters were dispatched to the bushfire in Saint-Mitre-les-Remparts after four houses were destroyed near the southern city of Arles.

Although other fires broke out in southern France on Thursday, the majority were extinguished before nightfall.

Thousands of hectares of densely forested land were at risk, firefighters said, as winds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) fanned the flames to parched trees.

The worst enemy of firefighters is the wind, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Agrinier.

Related article: Global analysis finds rising wildfire pollution death rate

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