Forest fire threatens Lacanau resort in western France

Water bomber being used to fight a forest fire near the western French resort of Lacanau on 17 August 2012 Water bombers are being used to contain the fire

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About 200 firefighters are battling a wildfire that has ravaged about 550 hectares (1360 acres) of pine forest near a resort popular with surfers on France's Atlantic coast.

Water is being dumped from four planes in an effort to control the blaze, near Lacanau, about 25km (16 miles) west of Bordeaux.

The task is being hampered by high winds and temperatures of up to 40C.

Droughts and heat have fanned wildfires across southern Europe this year.

On Friday, firefighters said the blaze had stopped spreading but the danger was not over.

"The fire's less virulent now but the wind and soaring heat are not helping," Jerome Mesure, a fire brigade captain, told the Reuters news agency.

The mayor of Lacanau, Jean-Michel David, said the likely cause was a cigarette thrown from a car, as the fire had started near a main road.

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"Frankly, I'm sick and tired of it. You only have to look at the damage this kind of behaviour causes," he told the Sud Ouest regional daily.

Last year, a forest fire destroyed about 200 ha of woodland near Lacanau.

"Two fires in as many summers in a row - enough is enough!" Mr David said.

Five homes have been evacuated and at least two firefighters lightly injured in initial attempts to combat the flames on Thursday, officials said.

The local fire service has warned of a heightened risk of wildfires across the Gironde department, according to Sud Ouest.

The area west and south-west of Bordeaux is known for its vast expanses of pine forest and long sandy beaches, whose high Atlantic waves attract surfers from across Europe.

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