The sea on one side and dark clouds of smoke on the other: a fire near Biarritz has caused numerous residents to flee. The return to their homes is a shock to some of them – because the fire was merciless.
Paris (dpa) – In a violent forest fire in the holiday region around the seaside resort of Biarritz, around 165 hectares of forest and several houses have been destroyed.
The fire broke out on Thursday evening in a pine forest in the triangle between Biarritz, Anglet and Bayonne near the border with Spain. «It’s scary. There is nothing left, »said Anglet Mayor Claude Olive, Franceinfo broadcaster on Friday. “It was quite a race because the fire jumped from garden to garden.”
The fire department brought the fire under control during the night on Friday, and more than 200 emergency services were on duty all night. Firefighters also fought the fire. According to the prefecture, around a dozen residents, police officers and firefighters came to the hospital with smoke poisoning. More than a hundred people had to leave their homes.
At least eleven houses were damaged, the Sud Ouest newspaper reported – five of them are uninhabitable. “Down in my street, the flames were approaching the houses and they were very violent, we all got into our cars,” the newspaper quoted one local. Dark clouds of smoke stood over the area on the Atlantic coast, the fire raged dangerously close to residential areas.
The Chiberta forest is a veritable green island in the densely populated metropolitan area, which is also a popular holiday region. There are numerous houses around the forest. The forest is “an invaluable legacy”, an “environmental and natural treasure,” said Mayor Olive. There was incredible solidarity among the residents. Almost all people who found refuge in a gym were picked up by friends or relatives.
“It was impressive because we had weather conditions that weren’t good at all,” he said. There have been winds from the south that have further fueled the fire. Why the fire broke out was initially unclear. The region has recently been extremely dry.