A firefighter working in the Gironde

Thousands flee their homes as wildfires rage across Europe

Gironde, France – Southwest firefighters France Saturday fought for massive containment Forest fires That spread to an area twice the size of Paris as fires continued to rage across the continent.

After more than a week of round-the-clock fighting against fierce flames by more than 1,000 firefighters and up to four water-dropping planes, officials said two major fires in the dry pine forests of southwestern France were contained but not contained. extinguished.

More than 50,000 acres of land have been destroyed, the local authority for the Gironde administration in the country’s Bordeaux wine region said. statement Saturday.

She added that 36,750 people were evacuated from the area, although 12,000 have since been allowed to return. The statement said that 4,000 more would be allowed to return to their homes on Saturday.

The problem is wind, temperatures and forests. “Forests and extremely low humidity are a problem,” Lt. Col. Eric Florensan, a firefighter, told NBC News Thursday at the Langone Fire Center.

He said the flames were “exceptional”.

The farmers also participated in using their water trucks to fill the fire engines on the front lines.

“We are mobilizing and trying to help as much as we can. We have the equipment,” one farmer, Kevin Moragon, told NBC News Thursday in a cordoned off area of ​​Houston.

A firefighter works in the Gironde region, southwest France, on Monday.PHILIP LOPES/PAUL/AFP via Getty Images

“It is heartbreaking to see such a beautiful thing going up in smoke and we are helpless,” he said, adding that “it is really sad and makes you feel helpless. You take these big trucks, take them out and come back.”

Elsewhere, wildfires have engulfed swathes of land across dozens of countries Europe This week the continent is floating under a severe heat wave.

In Spain, about 11,000 people evacuated due to fires began to return home, and a major highway in the northwestern province of Zamora reopened two days later.

On the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos, residents were evacuated on Saturday as a massive fire that began in mountainous forests threatened property in the beach resort of Vatera. Thick smoke can be seen billowing from the strong winds in the area.

Wildfires have also broken out in Italy, Poland and Slovenia, where authorities have issued their highest weather alerts this week, and firefighters continue to battle the fires in Portugal. The United Kingdom and France set record temperatures on Tuesday.

Experts have linked extreme temperatures in Europe to climate change.

European Union Officials warned in early July that an unusually hot and dry summer was the result of Climate changeHe urged local authorities to prepare for wildfires.

More recently, they called on the 27-nation bloc to coordinate better responses to the effects of climate change.

“Europe must act in a coordinated and expeditious manner to reverse the climate crisis,” Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said on Thursday. His country’s firefighters are also battling wildfires this week.

“The solution cannot be presented at the national level, because the problem is cross-border and huge,” he added.

Elizabeth Kohr and Megan Fitzgerald report from the Gironde, France. Rhoda Kwan reported from Taipei, Taiwan.

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