Soaring temperatures to nearly 42 ° C fueled the flames that burned 400 acres in total.
“The fire is under control, things have improved since last night although there are still two or three hot spots, so there is always a risk that it will wake up,” said the mayor of Anglet , Claude Olive.
The local prefecture said 11 houses were destroyed and five others rendered uninhabitable, and 16 people were treated for smoke inhalation, including a firefighter and several police officers.
Acrid smoke enveloped the city as around 130 firefighters battled the blaze, the cause of which remains unknown, Mr Olive said.
Locals described a blaze that quickly spread through tightly packed pine trees, which, like much of the French Basque country, had seen extremely dry conditions this summer.
“At the end of my street the flames were approaching the houses and they were very strong – we all jumped in our cars,” said a local.
A young woman evacuated from her boyfriend’s apartment said everything looked fine at 8 p.m.
“Then at 8:30 pm, we were told: ‘Everyone is going out! The tide has turned, ”” she recalls in tears.
“I had the flames 10 meters away! Another resident said, adding that “there is usually never a strong wind here”.
The blaze was the last of several to erupt in southern and central France this week, triggering the annual fire season which officials say could be made worse by drought and dry heat.
Last year, some 15,000 hectares caught fire across France, “and now the whole country is regularly affected,” said Gregory Allione of the FNSPF firefighters association in early July.
Thunderstorm warning issued in preparation in UK for the hottest day of the year
In the UK, the Met Office has issued a thunderstorm warning for this afternoon as the UK braces for what could be the hottest day of the year.
Temperatures are expected to reach 36 ° C in Greater London, but they will be short-lived.
The Met’s “yellow warning” is valid from 4 p.m. to midnight in large parts of eastern and south-eastern England, where the weather will be the hottest.
This includes the risks of gusts of wind, hail and “frequent lightning strikes” which could cause slight damage to buildings.
The Met said that while a large amount of rain is unlikely, some places can experience heavy showers and receive up to 15-20mm of rain in less than an hour.
The storms will be caused by warm air coming in from mainland Europe, parts of which will be colder than the UK.
Popular tourist spots in mainland Europe including Ibiza, Lisbon and Berlin are expected to reach 33 ° C, 30 ° C and 25 ° C respectively, compared to areas in Kent and Cambridgeshire where the mercury will reach around 33-34 ° C .
The thunderstorms will be quickly followed by cooler weather caused by a western weather front, negating any possibility of a heatwave in the UK.
The Met said the front would lead to temperature drops of up to 10 ° C overnight with highs of 26 ° C and 21 ° C in London and Manchester respectively on Saturday.
The short spike in warm weather comes at the end of a below-average July in terms of temperatures.
The UK average temperature for July is currently on track to be just 14.1 ° C, one degree lower than the 1981-2010 long-term average of 15.2 ° C.
Britain exceeded 100% of its average monthly rainfall and only experienced two-thirds (66%) of the sunshine forecast for an average July, a total of 113.4 hours, according to data from the Met .
“We haven’t seen a temperature above 30 so far or even with a three in it, which is quite unusual for July,” a Met spokesperson said.