A fire that torched thousands of hectares of tinder-dry woodland in southwest France has flared up again, officials warned Wednesday, amid a terrible drought and the summer’s latest heat wave.
According to Gironde regional officials, an additional 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of pine forest have burned in the Landiras blaze since Tuesday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of some 3,800 people.”
No one has been hurt in the popular summer vacation destination coastal area, but 16 homes have been demolished close to Belin-Beliet, officials added.
Speed limits on the highway have been lowered to 90 kmph (55 mph) in case smoke starts to limit visibility, and a full closure could be ordered if the fire worsens.
The Landiras fire that ignited in July was the largest of several that have raged this year in southwest France, which has been buffeted by record drought and a series of heat waves.
Some of the fires were started by arsonists, and officials initially suspected a criminal motive for the Landiras blaze. Police later released a suspect due to a lack of evidence.
The Landiras fire and a second large blaze near Arcachon burned a combined 21,000 hectares and forced more than 36,000 people to evacuate before they were brought under control — but not fully extinguished.
In western France, a forest fire in Angers and Le Mans has burned 1,200 hectares since Monday, despite the efforts of nearly 400 firefighters.
The regional firefighting coordination center believes arsonists are to blame for some of the blaze’s “unlikely flare-ups.”