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Wildfires return to France as much of Europe suffers drought conditions

“The fire has already destroyed 6,000 hectares of forest and 6,000 people have also been evacuated overnight,” said Martin Guesperau, deputy commissioner for defense and security at the Nouvelle-Aquitaine prefecture, on Wednesday. The fire started on Tuesday.

The main A63 highway between Bordeaux and Bayonne “will be closed both ways,” the Gironde prefecture said in a press release Wednesday. “The fire is very virulent and has spread to the department of Landes,” it added.

The flames have destroyed 16 houses but no injuries were reported, according to the press release. Authorities said 500 firefighters supported by water bombers have been mobilized to combat the fire.

“We are entering a difficult day with very high risks. The weather is extremely unfavorable at the moment,” authorities said.

French officials added that they are also fighting at least three other fires in the south of the country.

Meanwhile, 63% of the land across the European Union and UK combined is under either drought warnings or alerts, according to the European Union’s European Drought Observatory on Wednesday.

The area affected is almost the same size as India, and greater than the three biggest US states — Alaska, Texas and California — combined.

And new satellite imagery from the EU’s climate monitoring agency Copernicus reveals a near cloudless view of western Europe as it experiences yet another extreme heat wave.

In the southern UK and Netherlands, the mercury has once more climbed above 30…

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