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Europe heatwave: Bloc battles torrid heat as 2,000 acres up in flames in horror fire

A blaze which broke out yesterday at the Opoul area in the north of the Pyrénées-Orientales, near the border with Spain ravaged more than 2,000 acres in just a few hours, Le Figaro reported. More than 400 firefighters and eight water-bombing planes were mobilised to tackle the fire, which also threatened the Salses-le-Château commune. Speaking to local media, the mayor of Opoul, Pascal Sarda, stated the fire was “probably of criminal origin”, and its spread induced by the dry, scrubby terrain.

Approximately 300 people were evacuated from a campsite at Bois des Pins as well as from a residential area in Salses-le-Château, as the flames approached the locations.

Evacuees are being accommodated by the town hall in a multi-purpose hall.

Households and businesses in the Opoul area were left without electricity and water, while problems were recorded on the telephone network too.

According to the French press, farming facilities were highly impacted as crops and equipment were destroyed.

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Speaking to local media, Etienne Stoskopf, the prefect of Pyrénées-Orientales stated today: “There is no longer any direct threat to homes, property and people and this is a reason for relief.”

He added: “Even if the fire is less dangerous than it was on Tuesday evening, it remains active. We must continue to fight it, on its southern flank, the part which separates Rivesaltes and Opoul.”

“There are power cuts and difficulties in supplying drinking water, but the situation is not worrying.”

More fires were reported yesterday in areas of southern French including Rivesaltes, Corneilla-la-Rivière, Pollestres, Barcares, Cases-de-Pène and Toulouse.

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The prefect of Pyrénées-Orientales called on residents to avoid the affected areas “for their safety and for the efficiency” of the firefighters’ interventions.

Asked about a criminal cause of the fire, the official explained that there were eight fire starts in the department, “while we were not in a situation of extreme risk”.

He added: “It raises a number of questions, but the urgency is to put out the fire. There will be investigations to try to determine what caused these fires.”

The spark of the wildfires came after France suffered a heatwave with sizzling temperatures of up to 42 degrees over the past couple of weeks.



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