“This is the first time we have seen a fire like this,” firefighter Jerome Jean told France’s BFM channel. Some residents were forced to flee onto their roofs, BBC Reported.
Wildfires have been raging in France and across Europe amid a particularly hot summer and record drought. In the past two months, temperatures have soared to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the Southwest, in the Bordeaux wine region.
In recent days, thick clouds of smoke have drifted over the region’s beaches and highways, prompting local authorities to close the A63 motorway linking Bordeaux with northern Spain.
The fires initially started in July, the driest month in France since 1961, FRANCE24 Reported. It burned 34,000 acres and continues to smolder in the region’s dry pine forests, the network said, adding that officials suspect arson may have contributed to the most recent flare-up.
Scorching heat and strong winds have created a tinderbox effect, experts say, hampering efforts to contain the flames.
Severe droughts have also dried up the landscape in much of Europe, contributing to an estimated 264 fires in France alone this year. data Compiled by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).
“The area is completely disfigured. We are sad, we are tired,” Jean-Louis Dartiel, mayor of the French city of Hostens, told Radio Classic. Reuters reported.
“[This fire] is the final straw,” he said.