PARIS (Reuters) – France on Monday faced one of the hottest days ever recorded with temperatures reaching and even exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) in coastal regions cherished by tourists, as wildfires intensified in the west and south.

By 1500 GMT, several records had been broken locally, Meteo France said in an update, with 42.6 degrees in Biscarosse and 42.4 in Cazaux on the Atlantic coast in western France, 40.7 in Saint-Nazaire and 39.3 in the Brittany port of Brest in the country’s northwest, more than four degrees above the previous record.

It will become clear later on Monday whether a new national all-day average temperature record, now standing at 29.4 degrees reached from the historic heat waves of 2003 and 2019, will be set.

Thick plumes of smoke could be seen from famous Atlantic coast beaches close to the towering Pyla sand dune near Arcachon as strong winds and high temperatures kept fuelling wildfires. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin sent three additional water-bomber planes to the region.

Fires in the region have now spread over 14,800 hectares (36571.6 acres).

There were no reports of injuries so far.

“The situation is very difficult with the heat and the wind. and will remain very difficult tonight,” local prefect Fabienne Buccio said on BFM television”.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Marguerita Choy)

A firefighter creates a tactical fire in Louchats, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, July 17, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier