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New wildfire outbreaks feared as blazes rage in France


Aircraft are assisting the fire-fighting battle on the ground

French officials warned Thursday that flare-ups could cause a massive wildfire to further spread in the country’s parched southwest, where fresh blazes have already blackened swathes of land this week. 

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will meet with authorities battling the Landiras blaze south of Bordeaux, and further reinforcements are expected for the 1,100 firefighters on site, the prefecture of the Gironde department said.

“There is a very serious risk of new outbreaks,” it said.

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The wildfire first erupted a month ago in July — the driest month seen in France since 1961 — destroying 14,000 hectares and forcing thousands of people to evacuate before it was contained.

“We battled all night to stop the fire from spreading, notably to defend the village of Belin-Beliet,” Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Mendousse of the Gironde fire and rescue service told journalists in nearby Hostens.

Acrid smoke has spread across a huge swathe of the Atlantic coast and its beaches that draw huge crowds of tourists each summer, with the regional ARS health agency “strongly” urging people to wear protective face masks.

France has been buffeted this summer by a record drought that has forced water-use restrictions nationwide, as well as a series of heatwaves that many experts say are being driven by climate change.

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