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, Radio Romania International reports.
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.
The Romanian government on Thursday decided to grant emergency external humanitarian aid to France to fight wildfires in the form of a rapid response land module.
Seven firefighting officers and 70 non-commissioned firefighting officers with the General Emergency Management Inspectorate (IGSU) from several counties and 17 response vehicles have been mobilised to that end.
After consulting with President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca on Thursday asked the National Emergency Management Committee (CNSU) to convene at the proposal of the Emergency Management Department (DSU).
The aid is granted based on a request for international assistance submitted by the French Government through the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
“Yesterday, the French Government’s request for air and ground support to fight fires, especially around the Bordeaux area, as France is facing several outbreaks of serious wildfires, was posted. (…) Air support in the form of planes was offered by other countries, including Greece, which is also facing wildfires. (…) For the land part, following the discussions, (…) we agreed that we can offer a response module. (…) IGSU has mobilised response teams consisting of seven officers and 70 non-commissioned officers, in addition to 17 response vehicles that include at least eight vehicles able to put out fires, plus two water tanks and other means of response necessary for the firefighters in such situation,” head of the DSU Raed Arafat said at the Government House.
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:
“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.”
He added the response teams will be flown in by two C17 planes, which will take over the components from Bucharest and Timisoara. The two aircraft are from the Papa Air Base in Hungary, a NATO body that provides strategic air transport. They will be used with the support of the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, Arafat stated, according to Agerpres.
“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.