After days of battles, French firefighters observed the first signs of a slow down among fires in the southwestern region of Gironde on Thursday afternoon.
“The fire did not grow very much during the day, despite very low humidity and high temperatures, thanks to especially the combined action of the means that were made available,” said Marc Vermeulen, firefighting chief of Gironde, at a daily news conference.
However, the situation remains challenging, officials said. The Gironde fires had scorched 7,400 hectares of forest by Thursday afternoon and 10,000 people have been evacuated from the area. The fire has a 40-kilometer perimeter, which requires a lot of manpower to cover, according to Martin Guesperau, deputy commissioner for defense and security at the Nouvelle-Aquitaine prefecture.
On Thursday, France activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism which allows other EU member states to divert their resources to the country.
The first group of German firefighters has already arrived on scene and Romanian teams are expected to arrive later tonight. Additionally, firefighters from Poland and Austria are expected to arrive Friday. In total, the four countries will send 361 firefighters and 101 vehicles to help out, according to Guesperau.
Two firefighting planes from Italy are also due to arrive on Friday, on top of the four planes sent from Greece and Sweden today, Guesperau added.
“Today, we benefit fully from European solidarity,” French Prime Minister Élisabeth…