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'We fought all night': A thousand firefighters battle Bordeaux blaze

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
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Firefighters tackling a blaze near Hostens, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.
Firefighters tackling a blaze near Hostens, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.   -   Copyright  SDIS 33 Service Audiovisuel via AP

More than a thousand firefighters struggled to contain a huge wildfire near the city of Bordeaux in southwest France on Thursday. 

Some 68 square kilometres (26 square miles) in the Gironde area have burned for the last two days, with thousands of hectares of pine forest burning to a crisp. 

"We fought all night," said Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Mendousse of the Gironde fire and rescue service.

"It is a fire that spread extremely quickly the first night, and which progressed last night towards the north, towards the town of Belin-Béliet."

Winds forecast for Thursday are expected to push the fire in yet another direction, and Mendousse says firefighters have "learned to be cautious" when it comes to making predictions. 

So far, nearly 10,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, but no more evacuations are thought to be likely at this time. Seventeen homes have been destroyed by flames.

France's interior ministry has promised to send more personnel to tackle the wildfire, as well as planes and helicopters that can drop water on the flames. 

The A63 motorway from Bordeaux to Bayonne has been cut off in both directions, as smoke presents a risk for drivers. The regional health agency warned that the smoke from the fire -- visible for dozens of kilometres -- was "comparable to that of an intense pollution peak" and recommended people wear protective masks.

The Gironde region was hit in July by major wildfires that forced the evacuation of more than 39,000 people, including residents and tourists.

France is this week in the midst of its fourth heat wave of the year as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record.

Temperatures in the south of the country are expected to reach up to 40 degrees Celsius again on Wednesday.