Battle to control forest blaze as heatwave continues in south-west and central France

FOUR firefighting planes dropped tonnes of water on a forest fire near Lacanau, in south-west France, yesterday in a bid to control a blaze which has been burning since Thursday.

FOUR firefighting planes dropped tonnes of water on a forest fire near Lacanau, in south-west France, yesterday in a bid to control a blaze which has been burning since Thursday.

An estimated 550 hectares of Aquitaine pine forest – close to one of France’s premier surfing beaches – has been destroyed.

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Around 200 firefighters have been trying to bring the Landes forest fire under control. So far five people have been evacuated from their homes. It is thought a cigarette dropped from a car started the fire.

Local authorities in the Gironde have banned the public from woodland to prevent casualties, or more outbreaks of fire.

Temperatures in the Gironde have soared to 40C amid a continuing heatwave this week.

French authorities have issued a health alert for several regions this weekend after forecasters predicted more high temperatures in the south-west and centre of the country. A similar heatwave in early August 2003 left an estimated 15,000 mostly elderly people dead in France.