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France receives help from EU nations to battle raging forest fires

Firefighters and aircraft from several European Union (EU) countries are engaged to tackle a raging forest fire in France, the European Commission announced.

Firefighters from Germany, Poland, Austria, and Romania are to assist their French counterparts after France asked for help from the European Union (EU) to fight the blaze south of Bordeaux that flared up about two weeks after it was first brought under control, DPA news agency reported.

France will also receive four firefighting aircraft currently stationed in Greece and Sweden.

As the prefecture announced on Thursday, about 1,100 emergency workers are fighting the flames, while 10,000 people had to leave their homes and 6,800 hectares of land were destroyed by the flames.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne thanked the firefighters on Thursday during a visit south of Bordeaux.

She said France must prepare itself to be able to fight the fires, which are exacerbated by climate change, even better in the future.

Reforestation must take sustainability and climate change into account, she said.

“This drought is the worst ever recorded in our country,” Borne declared at the end of last week.

Several large forest fires also raged in France’s northern regions this summer. A fire near Bauge destroyed about 1,400 hectares of land, according to the Maine-et-Loire prefecture.

About the fires, Environment Minister Christophe Bechu told the local media on Thursday that “what we have experienced here is unprecedented”.

The fire brigade had never seen a fire of such magnitude there. Global warming means that northern regions could also be increasingly affected by fires, he said.

France has also requested data from the EU’s Copernicus satellite on burned areas, according to the European Commission.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter that 10,000 French firefighters and civil protection workers are currently battling fires across the country.

“Our partners are helping France,” he tweeted. “European solidarity is working.”

In the Rhineland in neighboring Germany, a specialized unit of firefighters from Bonn, Dusseldorf, Leverkusen, Konigswinter, and Ratingen made their way to France, according to authorities.

They were accompanied by comrades from the state of Lower Saxony, a supply unit from St John’s First Aid as well as experts from the aid organization @fire.

France is facing a particularly bad fire season as the country is currently experiencing another heatwave with temperatures expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius.

According to EU figures, more than 57,000 hectares of land have burned so far this year, compared to around 30,000 hectares in 2021.

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