After a forest fire flared up again in southern France, a thousand people had to leave their homes again.
According to local authorities in the Aveyron department on Sunday, the fire near the village of Mostuéjouls appeared to be on the way to extinguishing before flaring up “violently” again on Saturday afternoon.
According to this, an additional 500 hectares of land have burned since then. In total, more than 1,200 hectares fell victim to the flames on Sunday morning.
However, due to favorable weather conditions, the prefecture of the department expected the situation to improve.
The fire broke out last Monday, and 3,000 people were evacuated as a precaution. They had returned to their homes after the fire seemed under control.
In eastern France, the police announced over the weekend that they would block access to most of the forests in the Bas-Rhin department on the border with Germany. This should reduce the risk of new fires.
In the southwest of France, rain on Sunday night caused a brief relaxation in a fire that had devastated 7,400 hectares since Tuesday afternoon.
The situation with the fire in the Gironde department “improved significantly overnight” due to the precipitation, said Arnaud Mendousse from the local fire brigade. At the same time he restricted: “It gives you a breather, but it doesn’t mean the end of the fight.”
According to an official, the fire is now “limited”. However, “extreme caution” is still called for, said the director of the department’s fire department, Marc Vermeulen. He emphasized that “a contained fire is not the same as a fire extinguished”. It is strictly forbidden to enter the forest.
The 8,000 residents who had to temporarily leave their homes could return, a spokesman for the local prefecture said on Sunday afternoon. “This is excellent news.”
In the fight against the flames, the French fire brigade also received support from other countries: 65 firefighters from Germany took part.
The local authorities also reported success in the fight against fires in the Drôme and Maine-et-Loire departments and in the Brittany region, or they were optimistic about the weather. According to the French weather service Météo-France, however, there was a thunderstorm warning for eight departments in the country.
In the past few weeks, many European countries have been fighting major fires. Around 660,000 hectares of land have already burned in Europe this year – a record since records began in 2006, according to data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFIS). According to them, this year not only the Mediterranean countries were affected as usual; other regions also suffered enormously. Slovenia experienced its worst forest fire in generations.
“2022 is a record year so far,” said EFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel. “Drought and extremely high temperatures have hit all of Europe.” This increases the risk of forest fires enormously. “The situation is worrying – and we are only halfway through the fire season.” Spain has been the worst hit so far this year with 225,000 hectares burned. Romania follows with 150,000 and Portugal with 77,000 hectares.
In several towns in northeastern Spain, around 1,500 residents had to leave their homes again. A forest fire that got out of control in the region around the town of Añón de Moncayo, about 70 kilometers west of the city of Zaragoza, would be fueled again and again by strong gusts of wind, a firefighter said on Spanish state television broadcaster RTVE on Sunday. In addition, the wind direction is constantly changing. The situation is critical.
TV showed how residents of the region, already enveloped in acrid smoke, tried to stop the flames on the outskirts of the villages with garden hoses and buckets of water. They were assisted by 300 professional firefighters.