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Heatwave: Warnings of ‘heat apocalypse’ in France

Western France is facing a “heat apocalypse”, experts have warned, as extreme temperatures continue to hit much of Europe.

Temperatures could reach record levels in 15 regions of the southwest, with firefighters battling wildfires and thousands forced to evacuate.

Record temperatures are also expected in parts of the UK, which has its first ever red extreme heat warning in place.

Wildfires in France in recent days have forced over 16,000 people to flee the area, with emergency shelters set up for evacuees.

Gironde, a popular tourist region in the southwest, has been hit particularly badly, with firefighters battling to control fires which have destroyed over 14,000 hectares (34,000 acres) of land since last Tuesday.

We joined a convoy of journalists escorted into woodland in the direction of the coast where campsites were abandoned by holidaymakers days ago.

At first you could see clouds of smoke hanging in the woods but it all seemed relatively under control.

But, the further in we went, the worse it got.

Suddenly there were endless pockets of fire on the side of the road. Trees were burning. Firefighters along the route were endlessly trying to tackle the most serious hot spots.

They are trying to prevent the blaze spreading across the road. It is hot work in smoky conditions.

As we got closer to the shore, suddenly there was a roar above our heads. It was a Canadair aircraft – a “water bomber”.

Six of them have been deployed to the area to help put out the flames. It seemed like four or five passed over our heads, one releasing a huge burst of water on the ground below.

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