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Wildfires rage in France, thousands evacuated from homes

Wildfires tore through the Gironde region of southwestern France on Wednesday, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of 10,000 residents, some of whom had clambered onto rooftops as the flames got closer.

Black-and-orange skies, darkened by the smoke billowing from forests and lit up by the flames, were seen across the area as the fires continued to burn out of control despite the efforts of firefighters backed by water-bombing aircraft.

The blaze, which has razed about 6,200 hectares, has now crossed in the neighbouring Landes region.

🔥 En Gironde, l'incendie qui circule entre Saint-Magne et Hostens est hors de contrôle ce mardi soir. La nuit s'annonce très difficile et des évacuations sont en cours. (© Johanna SG)

— MĂ©tĂ©o Express (@MeteoExpress) August 9, 2022
France, like the rest of Europe, has been struggling this summer with successive heatwaves and its worst drought on record. Dozens of wildfires are ablaze across the country, including at least eight major ones.

“Prepare your papers, the animals you can take with you, some belongings,” the Gironde municipality of Belin-Beliet wrote on Facebook before evacuating parts of the town. Firefighters said more evacuations were likely.

In addition, numerous small roads and a highway were closed.

As announced by the Polish Interior Ministry on Thursday, the country will send a team of firefighters to help their French colleagues. A total of 146 firefighters and 49 fire and rescue vehicles are to be deployed.

More than 57,200 hectares have gone up in flames so far in France this year, nearly six times the full-year average for 2006-2021, data from the European Forest Fire Information System shows.

The Gironde wildfire is one of many that have broken out across Europe this summer, triggered by heatwaves that have baked the continent and brought record temperatures.

In Portugal, nearly 1,200 firefighters backed by eight aircraft have battled a blaze in the mountainous Covilha area some 280 km (174 miles) northeast of Lisbon that has burned more than 3,000 hectares of forest since Saturday.

More than 600 firefighters continue to battle a wildfire in Portugal's Serra da Estrela natural park

— The National (@TheNationalNews) August 8, 2022
Spain and Greece have also had to tackle multiple fires over the past few weeks.

'Forest Fire' O Barco de Valdeorras, Ourense, Galicia, Spain. Photo: Brais Lorenzo

— Grouse Beater (@Grouse_Beater) August 10, 2022
Firenado in California
Over 200 firefighters were called to tackle a brush fire in Gorman, California on Wednesday, after the blaze spread over 60 hectares.

Soaring temperatures and turbulent winds formed a “firenado” in the flames. “Firenados”, also known as “fire devils”, are towers of fire that are formed when hot, dry air is mixed with fire.

Incredible Sky5 video of a #firetornado at the #samfire in northwestern Los Angeles County. #BREAKING

— KTLA (@KTLA) August 11, 2022
According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, no structures in the area were immediately threatened.

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