French firefighters slow blazes as heat drops – Expat Guide to France

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Firefighters battling twin blazes in southwestern France said on Wednesday the blazes were brought under control thanks to improving weather conditions, but had not been completely stopped.

“Our results are generally positive. The situation improved overnight,” said local fire department spokesman Arnaud Mendousse, saying only 300 additional hectares had burned since Tuesday evening.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to travel to the fire-hit Gironde region where a total of 20,600 hectares (206 km2) of forest have caught fire since last week and 37,000 people have been evacuated.

Local temperatures fell from over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday to the mid-20s on Wednesday.

“We were able to really work on our defenses against the fire,” local government official Fabienne Buccio told reporters on Tuesday evening. “We managed to improve, advance and create important firewalls.”

“Cooler weather” had helped, she said, although the region was not expecting significant rainfall that would help put out the flames.

Pine forests along the Atlantic coast were dry after months of drought conditions that affected the entire country.

The biggest fire is in a sparsely populated area south of Bordeaux, near the village of Landiras, which is being treated by police as a suspected arson attack.

A suspect remains in custody and will be charged or released on Wednesday.

A second fire has ravaged a popular tourist area by the sea behind the Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe, near the Arcachon basin.

It is believed to have been caused by a van which caught fire last week.

Macron is expected to meet members of the emergency services, local officials and volunteers during his tour of the region on Wednesday alongside Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

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