More than 100 hectares of vegetation have been destroyed in a fire in a natural park in southeast France, with more than 230 firefighters on-site as part of the emergency response.
The fire is being called the first big blaze of the year. It took place in the natural park of Alpilles in the commune of Mouriès, Bouches-du-Rhône, at the weekend (February 4-5).
Hundreds of firefighters and around 100 fire engines were on-site, of which 60 were specifically dedicated to fighting the flames, the fire department said.
Initially, firefighters estimated that the fire had travelled 130 hectares before it was brought under control. The flames were fanned by strong winds, which at times reached 110km/h.
#Feu | Le feu de #Mouriès @departement13 est fixé à 130 ha par les @Pompiers_13.— Pompiers de France (@PompiersFR) February 4, 2023
230 sapeurs-#pompiers & 105 engins ont été nécessaires pour ralentir & stopper sa progression.
Le feu reste sous vigilance active à cause de la sécheresse des sols & d'un vent imprévisible. pic.twitter.com/SO5oF4pDBp
On Sunday, the state weather forecast service MétéoFrance lifted its yellow alert for wind in the department.
Around 100 firefighters remained on-site overnight to guarantee the dampening of residual flames, a firefighter spokesperson said.
Five properties in the area needed to be protected, the emergency services said. Eight people were also asked to evacuate as a preventative measure and some roads nearby were closed as a precaution. No-one was injured in the incident.
90 hectares ont été parcourus par les flammes dans le secteur des Baumettes, sur la commune de Mouriès, depuis ce matin. Plusieurs maisons ont été ou sont en train d'être protégées ⤵#Incendie #Feu pic.twitter.com/sv80a5Xei8— La Provence (@laprovence) February 4, 2023
The gendarmerie are continuing an inquiry to determine the cause of the blaze which started at around 5:30 near a departmental road and said: “The origins need us to do research and at this stage, no single cause has been determined.”
The first fire of the year comes after last year, 2022, was judged to be particularly savage for wildfires. Hundreds of thousands of hectares were burned and at least 48 people were arrested in connection with suspected arson.
48 people arrested last summer accused of starting wildfires in France