Friday night, a task force from the Lower Austrian fire brigade set out for Bordeaux, France. 74 firefighters are helping to put out a bushfire that has been raging for weeks.
The first train of 12 wagons and 27 firefighters from the “AT – Combating Wild Forest Fires Using Vehicles” unit started Thursday at 10 p.m. The journey takes about 30 hours. Another vehicle with emergency services will follow on Friday, and 47 emergency services will be transferred to the area of operations 1,700 km away by charter flight from Vienna Airport in Schwechat (Brück an der Letha region).
The destination of the Lower Austrians is located in the most affected province of Gironde in southwestern France, namely the municipality of Huestens with a population of 1,300 in the Bordeaux administrative region, 50 kilometers south of Bordeaux. Weeks ago, massive wildfires broke out over a total area of 6000 hectares.
Photo series with 4 photos
French firefighters asked their foreign colleagues for support this week through the European Union’s aid mechanism. Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania and Sweden also sent in support to France, where massive fires broke out in several regions.
74 emergency service from Lower Austria helps in France
In coordination with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Lower Austria sends 74 auxiliary workers and 12 vehicles, including forest fire vehicles, from the Special Forest Fire Service – more on this at Forest fires: Firefighters helping in France (noe.ORF.at; 11 August 2022). According to the Lower Austrian Fire Brigade Command, the focus of operations is particularly on fighting fires by ground units, as there are currently few or no firefighting aircraft available across Europe.
The temporary period of use was given for one week. Depending on the situation, however, the duration can change, it is said. In Bordeaux, state fire brigade advisor Josef Huber is responsible for coordinating emergency services in Lower Austria. Huber most recently ran the overseas mission in North Macedonia in August 2021, and also managed the Great Fire in the Rax region last fall. At the farewell ceremony, state fire brigade commander Dietmar Fravelner emphasized that this would be one of the most difficult missions abroad in history.
“Food practitioner. Bacon guru. Infuriatingly humble zombie enthusiast. Total student.”