Big wildfire spreads in southern France

·2-min read

Strong winds and hot, dry weather are frustrating French firefighters' efforts to contain a huge wildfire that has raced across pine forests in the Bordeaux region for a fifth straight day, one of several scorching Europe in recent days.

Among the worst fires have been in Portugal, where the pilot of a firefighting plane died on Friday when his plane crashed while on an operation in the northeast.

It was the first fatality in fires in Portugal this year, which have injured more than 160 people and forced hundreds to flee from towns this week.

Fire season has hit parts of Europe earlier than usual this year after an unusually dry, hot spring that authorities attribute to climate change.

About 3000 firefighters backed by water-dumping planes are battling blazes in southern France, the president said, and Greece sent firefighting equipment to help.

More than 11,000 people have been evacuated from villages and campgrounds.

Firefighters managed to contain one of the worst fires overnight, near the Atlantic coast resort of Arcachon, the regional emergency service said Saturday.

But it said "tough meteorological conditions" thwarted efforts to contain the biggest fire in the region, which started in the town of Landiras, south of a valley of Bordeaux vineyards.

They were focusing efforts on Saturday on using fire trucks to surround villages at risk and save as many homes as possible.

The two fires have burned at least 9650 hectares of land in recent days.

A similar scene is playing out in Portugal, where more than 3000 firefighters battled alongside ordinary Portuguese citizens desperate to save their homes from several wildfires that raged across the country, fanned by extreme temperatures and drought conditions.

The country's Civil Protection Agency said 10 fires were still raging Friday.

Portuguese state television RTP reported on Friday that the area burned had already exceeded the total for 2021. More than 30,000 hectares had been burned, it said, most in the past week.

Spain, Croatia and Hungary have also fought wildfires this week. Many European countries are facing exceptional heat this month also attributed to climate change.

Britain's weather agency issued its first-ever "red warning" of extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures in southern England are forecast to reach 37C.

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