Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / Europe

Fire battle in France intensifies

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-08-19 09:24
Share - WeChat

Blaze that emptied Riviera resort still raging as more personnel join fight

It's still just another summer day for some as a firefighting aircraft takes part in efforts against a major fire in France's Var region on Tuesday. ERIC GAILLARD/REUTERS

PARIS-Firefighters struggled for a third day on Wednesday to contain France's worst wildfire of the summer near the glitzy Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez that has forced thousands of residents and tourists to flee.

A local government official for the southern French region of Var, where the fire first broke out on Monday, said the blaze still had not been contained as of the early hours of Wednesday. One person has been found dead.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday left his nearby summer retreat to thank the firefighters for their efforts.

Some 1,200 firefighters were deployed, using high-pressure hoses, water-bombing planes and helicopters to control the flames.

High temperatures and strong winds forced local authorities to evacuate around 7,000 people from homes and campsites, the Var prefecture said on Tuesday, many to the safety of municipal buildings and schools.

"The coming hours will be absolutely decisive" for the firefighting effort, Macron said during the visit to first responders.

While Macron added that "the battle is ongoing and the fire has not yet been contained, stabilized", he said that the firefighters' courage had managed to "avoid the worst".

Eric Grohin, a colonel in Var's firefighting unit, said the flames were regularly leaping across gaps of up to 800 meters, making it difficult to hem the blazes in.

"There's not much we can do beyond protecting human lives and homes," he said.

Among the thousands moved to the safety of municipal buildings and schools were 1,300 people staying at a campsite in the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas down the coast from Saint-Tropez.

"Thousands of people have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, but there are no victims," fire service spokeswoman Delphine Vienco told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday morning, adding that the blaze was "still very fierce".

"The fire is very large, it's a very difficult fight," said Vienco, citing "adverse conditions, with strong winds and high temperatures".

Many tourists could still be seen enjoying the sunshine on the nearby Cote d'Azur beaches, as Canadair firefighting aircraft swooped in regularly to fill their tanks from the sea before returning to the smoking hills nearby.

Others loaded up their cars and headed for safety, leading officials to plead for people in secure areas to stay at home and avoid blocking roads used by the emergency services.

Large blazes have already ravaged parts of Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco this year.

Waves of extreme heat have hit much of the Mediterranean region in recent weeks, raising uncomfortable questions over global warming and countries' preparedness.

New data from a US scientific agency has found that July was the hottest month recorded in human history.

Record temperatures

"July is typically the world's warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded," Rick Spinrad, administrator of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement on Friday. "In this case, first place is the worst place to be."

Europe is among the regions suffering from record-high temperatures.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, the mercury hit 48.8 C on Aug 11, scorching Italy's southernmost province of Sicily. The temperature broke Europe's record of 48 C, which was registered in Greece on July 10, 1977.

The hottest month "adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe", California-based environmental organization Sierra Club tweeted on Friday.

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of the UN, released a report titled "Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis" in which it warned that uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions have intensified climatic shocks besides undermining growth and stability.

"Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe," the report said.

Agencies - Xinhua

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349