Firefighters from Romania have joined their French counterparts to help the latter contain the wildfires currently affecting southwestern France
Presently affected by a severe heatwave and prolonged drought, France is fighting extensive forest fires in the southwestern region of Gironde. Fires this time spread faster than in July, when the entire region was devastated and thousands of people had to be evacuated.
Firefighters from many countries have joined their French counterparts in the latter's efforts to contain the wildfires in the region. Their gesture has been described by President Emmanuel Macron as an example of European solidarity. Italy, Greece and Sweden are among the countries which sent firefighting aircraft while 77 firefighters from Romania are working shoulder to shoulder with their French counterparts in an attempt to contain wildfires in the region.
In response to a request made by the French government, authorities in Bucharest have also decided to dispatch equipment to the affected areas in France through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. According to the Head of the Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, it is for the first time Romania is doing such an ample air rescue operation:
Raed Arafat: "From our point of view this is a first as we are flying technical equipment and big fire engines to a foreign country; some of these engines have a capacity of 4 thousand liters. Military planes have been made available to us and we are using them under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. We proposed this mission, it got the greenlight, and now our intervention teams are ready and able to help their French colleagues because they are not tired after traveling thousands of kilometers by road."
"Romania is solidary with France, our partner and traditional friend, which is these days fighting massive wildfires. Just like in the case of Greece, when Romania had a main contribution to putting out fires there, we can prove our capability of being a reliable partner for the allies" Romania's Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said in a message.
Only several days ago, Romanian firefighters completed their mission in Greece, where they responded to a request by the Greek authorities through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. 56 Romanian firefighters put out fires around capital Athens in two consecutive rounds before being subsequently replaced by colleagues from other European countries contributing to the operation.
Since the beginning of this summer season, Greece has been affected by hundreds of wildfires against the backdrop of the extremely hot weather with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. Rescue operations this year have been marked by a helicopter crash close to the island of Samos, where two people lost their lives.