France uses the help of European countries to fight the fires that devastate the country

The heatwave continues across much of France on Saturday ahead of afternoon thunderstorms and showers from the west in an environment that could help firefighters battle fires in the Gironde and Land Islands.

Nineteen provinces stretching from the southwest to Finistère are still on orange alert, but this heat wave is expected to subside this Sunday, with thunderstorms in most of France, including Corsica, where the alert is also on orange with storms expected electrical.

However, it is still difficult to predict the impact of thunderstorms on fires, especially due to high winds that can be a hindrance to firefighters.

A month after two major fires in the Gironde, the first in Landeras and the second in Teste-du-Bock, the outbreak of the fire has not changed for more than 48 hours after devastating 7,400 hectares of pine trees.

On Friday night, residents in parts of Land County were allowed to return to their homes. And on Saturday, the authorities decided to reopen the A63 highway, which connects the city of Bordeaux (west) with Spain, and which has been closed since Wednesday for a 20 km stretch.

“The fire is still burning on the western side,” Gironde police chief Fabien Bossio warned, noting that 1,000 firefighters were mobilized, supported by their German and Romanian colleagues, that 361 firefighters were advancing, some of whom were from Poland. and Austria. also.

– ‘We want to help’ –

“Here we are all volunteers,” said Ton Neuhalfel, a 36-year-old German firefighter.

On Friday, two Italian “Canader” bombers and two Greeks arrived at an airbase near Bordeaux. “We are happy because we know we are helping you guys,” said Capt. Anastasis Sarioglu, 36, who is on his first mission to France.

In Austin, the head of the detachment, Romanian Colonel Christian Bohayanu, confirmed that the 77 firefighters “are ready to go to the site”, and will later be joined by 21 firefighters from Polynesia.

In the afternoon, President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet: “They come from the other side of the world to support their comrades fighting the flames in the Gironde: Thanks to the Polynesian firefighters for their solidarity.”

In France, fires have tripled the annual rate of area burned in the last 10 years, a record in the European Union since records began in 2006.

Even Jura, which has a mild climate, was affected by two fires.

In Brittany, a fire on Friday destroyed nearly 300 hectares of woodland west of Rennes. By Friday afternoon, “two-thirds were contained,” Morbihan district police chief Pascal Polo said.

In Ardesh, the fire that has destroyed at least 320 hectares is “under control”, the district police command announced on Friday afternoon, adding that between 150 and 200 firefighters were still on the move.

Faced with this “exceptional” situation, several large French companies – Carrefour, Orange, EDF, Axa and Auchan – have taken measures to facilitate the volunteering of some of their employees, in response to the call of the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanín.

On Friday night, the minister also called on the police leadership to “take special care”, or even cancel the traditional fireworks celebrations on August 15 due to the “high risk of fires”.

– drought –

The Meteorological Authority warned that the expected rains from Saturday night will not be enough to face the unprecedented drought in the country, since the average rainfall in July was reduced to less than one centimeter.

Meteorologist Claire Chanal warned during a press conference on Friday night that “the storms will blow over very dry ground, which does not allow the absorption of water and increases the risk of flooding and hail.”

Irrigation is banned in much of France, and 73 governors have banned farmers from drawing water in all or part of their provinces.

And in Portugal, which is experiencing an exceptionally dry year this year with the hottest July in nearly a century, the Serra da Estrela Natural Park fire in the center of the country has been declared under control.

And on Friday night, the fire, which broke out a week ago and devastated 17,000 hectares, “was controlled,” Civil Protection commander Miguel Cruz told TSF radio.