France halts spread of “monster” wildfire, reopens highway

A view shows trees and vegetation charred by a large fire in Hostens as a wildfire spreads in the Gironde region of southwestern France on August 12, 2022. REUTERS/Stephan Mahe

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PARIS, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Firefighters have managed to contain a “monstrous” blaze in southwestern France, allowing authorities to reopen a stretch of highway to traffic ahead of a busy travel weekend.

The local prefect said in a tweet on Saturday that “the fire did not burn overnight due to critical equipment.”

Reinforcements from across Europe helped local firefighters battle fires that have ravaged forests in France’s Gironde region since Tuesday, forcing 10,000 people to evacuate their homes. The fire has been fueled by wind temperatures of up to 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in recent days. Read on

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A fire had already broken out in southwestern France in July that destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forest and temporarily forced nearly 40,000 people from their homes.

A succession of heat waves have fueled wildfires across Europe this summer, highlighting the risks of climate change to industry and livelihoods. Read on

A storm is expected to sweep through France on Saturday night, bringing down temperatures and prompting severe weather warnings.

More than a thousand French firefighters were supported by hundreds of firefighters from across Europe, as well as trucks and waterbombing planes, which continued to arrive on Saturday.

Hundreds of firefighters are also battling the blaze in northern Brittany, where flames have burned 400 hectares, as well as in the eastern Jura region, where more than 500 hectares have burned.

More than 60,000 hectares (230 square miles) have burned in France so far this year, six times the full-year average for 2006-2021, data from the European Forest Fire Information System show.

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Reporting by Mimosa Spencer; Editing by Christina Fincher

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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