Evening Update Wednesday 20 July 2022

President Macron has paid tribute to the firefighters involved in battling the major fires in the Gironde. On a visit to the department this afternoon he said they are "absolute heroes" for fighting what he called "one of he greatest fires in our history". He said that he wanted to "rebuild very quickly" but with different rules regarding fire prevention. During his visit President Macron met firefighters, law enforcement personnel and elected officials as well as others involved in fighting the fires.

Over 20,000 hectares have now been destroyed by the fires which started eight days ago. Additional aircraft are being deployed. Government Spokesperson Olivier Veran said today that President Macron had requested that two civilian helicopters be requisitioned from today in order to reinforce the fleet of aircraft fighting the fires.

In an update this afternoon the prefect of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine et Gironde said that nearly 20,600 hectares of forest in Gironde had been burned. He added that the progression of the fires was "greatly limited" overnight thanks to the significant land and air resources involved and the numerous fire protection works carried out yesterday. No additional evacuations have taken place since yesterday afternoon. A total of 36,750 people have been evacuated since the start of the crisis but there have been no serious injuries. The prefect said that during the night, the firefighters extinguished numerous outbreaks of fire, in particular because of electrical storm activity and firefighters remain "extremely mobilized and vigilant".

Meanwhile, the prosecutor's office in Bordeaux has said that the man who was in police custody suspected of starting a fire has been released. It said that it was "out of the question" that he had been involved.

Several thousand properties in la Seyne-sur-Mer suffered power cuts yesterday. Enedis said that the outages resulted from the recent high temperatures. Supplies have now been fully restored.

A man has been shot dead by special forces in the Ain department in eastern France after reportedly killing five people. Local reports say that the victims were members of his own family. An inquiry has been opened.

 

BUSINESS

Inflation in the UK increased to 9.4% in the 12 months to June. The figure for May was 9.1%. The Office for National Statistics said that petrol prices and the cost of milk, cheese and eggs rose. The ONS also said that the cost of both raw materials and goods leaving factories continued to rise, driven by higher metal and food prices respectively.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today that a full cut off of Russian gas to the EU is a "likely scenario" which would affec