Jul 13, 2022 - World

Thousands of tourists evacuated from southwestern France as wildfires rage

Firefighters attempt to control a forest fire spread
Firefighters attempt to control a forest fire spread on the communes of Landiras and Guillos, southwestern France, on July 13. Photo: Thibaud MoritzZ/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in France are battling two wildfires in the southwestern region of Gironde that have already burned 1,700 hectares of land and forced the evacuation of nearby villages.

Driving the news: A large swath of Western Europe is currently experiencing a heat wave that has seen temperatures in some parts top 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • The heat has also sparked wildfires in Portugal that have injured dozens of people.

The big picture: Since Tuesday, firefighters have been working to extinguish two wildfires that have burned 1,700 hectares of forest in Gironde as of midday Wednesday, the regional government said in a statement.

  • One wildfire, near the Atlantic coast, is in the Teste-de-Buch commune, home to the largest sand dune in Europe, and the other is near the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux.
  • "Significant human and material resources are deployed to bring the fires under control," the statement read, including nearly 600 firefighters, backed by six water-bomber aircraft, have been deployed to help fight the fires.

State of play: The weather conditions remain unfavorable, characterized by swirling winds and rising temperatures, and the region's sandy terrain is slowing rescue workers' pace.

  • Firefighters have evacuated more than 6,000 people at five campsites near Teste-de-Buch and about 500 residents from villages near the Landiras fire, per an earlier update from the Gironde regional government.
  • Among the evacuees were thousands of tourists, Reuters reported.
  • On the day before Bastille Day, the Gironde regional government has forbidden all fireworks in towns and villages in close proximity to forests through July 18, per Reuters.

Worth noting: Studies show that as the climate warms, the frequency of heat waves dramatically increases — as does the severity and longevity of such events, per Axios' Andrew Freedman.

Go deeper: Heat domes spike in Europe as climate change helps shift weather patterns

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