STORY: Wildfires tore through the Gironde region of southwestern France on Wednesday, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of 10,000 residents.
Black-and-orange skies, darkened by the smoke billowing from forests and lit up by the flames, were seen across the area as the fires continued to burn out of control.
In Belin-Beliet, a local security official said the fire seemed to somehow outmaneuver efforts to contain it:
"It's a bitter fight as we speak. What's going to happen tonight? The fire has learned how to surprise us. I don't know. The fire spiraled like a snail's shell, it came back on its tracks. It then went off to the south, then to the north. The fire has learnt how to surprise us.
He described the conflagration as something with a life of its own:
"It created its own wind, its own story, its own movement. It has now decided to head off towards the north with two major fronts."
France, like the rest of Europe, has been struggling this summer with successive heatwaves and its worst drought on record. Dozens of wildfires are ablaze across the country, including at least eight major ones.
Sweden and Italy are among countries preparing to send help to France.