French wildfire grows to 19,000 acres despite international help

A cloud of smoke rises from a forest fire at La Teste de Buch, France, on July 14. Wildfires burned in France on Saturday despite international help. Photo by Caroline Blumberg/EPA-EFE

Aug. 13 (UPI) — French firefighters battled a raging wildfire in Landiras on Saturday with improvement on the frontlines despite getting international support from crews around Europe.

Authorities said the fire has burned nearly 19,000 acres since its start on July 12. Fire crews from Germany, Romania, Greece, Italy, Austria and Poland have all joined in. Altogether, some 1,100 firefighters are battling the wildfire.

Fire officials said, however, that the La Teste-de-Buch fire was under control.

High temperatures and dry conditions on Friday fueled the fire, presenting a “severe risk” for its continued spread, officials said.

Since the start of 2022, wildfires have burned more than 138,300 acres in France, three times the annual average this decade. In July alone, 14,000 acres have burned in France during the country’s driest month since 1961.

Some 10,000 people from Saint-Magne, Hostens and Belin-Beliet have been evacuated because of the wildfire, staying in emergency shelters in Salles, Saint Symphorien and Le Barp. While officials have called for additional volunteers to help at the shelters, everyone has evacuated safely and no injuries have been reported.

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