Disasters & Accidents

French authorities: Wildfire in SW France now under control

Paris, Aug 14 (EFE).- The rain on the weekend has helped firefighters working to put out the Landiras wildfire, in the southwestern French region of Gironde, part of the department of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, to bring it under “control,” Arcachon government official Ronan Leaustic said on Sunday.

After burning 7,400 hectares (about 18,500 acres), the fire – the second to ravage southwestern France in less than a month – has been declared “under control,” although it has not been extinguished, authorities said.

The situation has enabled the roughly 10,000 local residents who had been forced to evacuate the area at mid-week to be able to return to their homes in the towns of Belin-Beliet, Saint-Magne and Hostens, along with Mano, Saugnac-et-Muret and Moustey in the adjacent department of Landes.

Local roadways, including the A63 highway linking Bordeaux with the Spanish border, are completely open, although the rest areas along the routes remain closed as a precaution.

However, the commander of the Gironde Gendarmerie, Loic Baras, said that access to the local forests remains barred due to reasons of public safety.

The Italian and Greek pilots participating in the efforts to put out the fire – actually multiple smaller blazes – with firefighting aircraft have ended their mission, although the firefighting reinforcements who arrived this past week from Germany, Austria, Romania and Poland are remaining in the area, the regional newspaper Sud-Ouest reported.

Firefighters are working now to clean up the debris and put out hotspots to prevent new fire outbreaks that could once again get out of control, given the local very hot and dry conditions.

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to meet with local authorities in the departments involved in battling the fires to agree on a prevention and firefighting plan, the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday.

The French head of state will also meet with firefighters, farmers and other foreign volunteers who have been affected by the fires or have participated in putting them out throughout France so far this summer to thank them for their efforts and to discuss adjusting the fire prevention and control model over the coming years.

Macron has not yet specified the date on which the meeting will take place.

EFE mdv/psh/bp

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