Nearly 4,000 hectares ravaged in the Var, 90 in the Aude… The south of France, so far relatively untouched by fires, is in the grip of several fires on Tuesday August 17th.
Thousands of people evacuated in the Var
A thousand firefighters were mobilized to try to fix the biggest fire of the summer in France, in the hinterland of Saint-Tropez (Var). “There is no more wind at all, so we will be busy drowning all the edges [bordures] “, described Tuesday, at the end of the evening, to Agence France-Presse (AFP) the spokesperson for the firefighters of the Var. “The situation is no longer alarming as it was last night, but it remains worrying”, he added, evoking “Some homes” disturbing.
The fire, which started on Monday near a motorway rest area, covered 6,675 hectares and burned 4,000, according to firefighters. A thousand of them, many of whom came as reinforcements from all over France, are hard at work for the night, with 225 vehicles. Two departmental roads remain closed to traffic.
According to the Var prefecture, 7,000 people, residents but also French and foreign tourists, were evacuated from their homes or camping. To protect them, fifteen reception centers have been activated in the eight municipalities on the Var coast. Before nightfall, the gendarmes carried out new evacuations “Very perilous” people living north of the village of Garde-Freinet, they told AFP.
About ten homes were also “Destroyed” by the flames according to the gendarmes, who deployed 120 personnel in the area to come to the aid of the population, but also to manage the road flows, several axes being cut, or to monitor the houses abandoned by their occupants.
The damage to the environment is significant: “Half of the Plaine des Maures nature reserve has been devastated. It’s a disaster, because it’s one of the last spots sheltering Hermann’s turtle ”, a protected species, explained to AFP Concha Agero, deputy director of the French Biodiversity Office. Burnt turtles have already been found. Others may have managed to bury themselves underground to survive.
In Aude, 90 hectares burned
In addition to the Var fire, fires fanned by the wind also ravaged around 90 hectares of vegetation in Aude on Tuesday. At around 7 p.m., a fire broke out near Peyriac-de-Mer, crossed the motorway, but it was quickly brought under control, Commander Grégory Macquart, of the Aude firefighters told AFP. , who dispatched 180 men to the site. The A9 was closed between Narbonne and Perpignan for three hours, causing traffic jams.
But 2 km away, firefighters are trying to contain another fire, which swept through 60 hectares of scrubland and trees at night from Monday to Tuesday. The fire started in the town of Bizanet (Aude), in the Corbières, a region near the Mediterranean coast, known for its vineyard. “The situation remains worrying on [l’incendie] of Bizanet, due to the wind. We have 450 men on site », said Commander Macquart. On Tuesday, four firefighters in intervention were injured near Bizanet, when their truck was caught in the flames, and were hospitalized. Residents of four houses were evacuated as a preventive measure.
Water bombers support the action on the ground, underlines Mr. Macquart, but “We share the air resources with the other regions of the Mediterranean arc”, in particular the Var. Still in the Corbières, near the village of Durban, another fire broke out overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, burning 20 hectares before being checked.
Other fires mobilize the firefighters. More than 350 firefighters are fighting a fire in the region of Beaumes-de-Venise (Vaucluse), renowned for its wine estates. According to a tweet from the prefecture, 210 hectares of vegetation are concerned.
France had so far been relatively spared from the fires which devastated thousands of hectares and claimed dozens of victims in several Mediterranean countries, from Turkey to Algeria via Greece. According to the Prometheus database, approximately 2,340 hectares burned in the Mediterranean region (four regions concerned) in France in 2021, against 7,698 in 2020.
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