This month’s unusually dry, warm weather has led to forest fires in several areas of France, with some residents having to be temporarily evacuated from their homes.
Several fires began in Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Saturday (March 26), with fire and rescue crews and Canadair firefighter planes being deployed to tackle the flames.
In the village of Barcelonnette, a fire began in a garden before spreading, requiring seven people to be evacuated.
In Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur, meanwhile, 20 hectares were burned and four Canadairs were sent to the scene.
In the Alpes-Maritimes, the village of Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey, near Grasse, also fell victim to a fire which destroyed 50 hectares of land on Saturday.
Nearly 80 firefighters were called to the scene, but struggled to control the blaze, which was burning over an area where “access was difficult” on a “rising slope” and with a “moderate wind.”
On Thursday and Friday, fires had already burnt around 25 hectares of vegetation in Valdeblore village and approximately 12 hectares in Gorbio near Menton.
This comes as Alpes-Maritimes farmers urge local authorities to take preemptive action to conserve water resources as the department is placed under a drought warning.
Alpes-Maritimes is now also under a ‘red’ alert for forest fires, meaning that residents are forbidden from burning garden waste in the open air.
Prévention "feu de forêt"— Préfet des Alpes-Maritimes (@prefet06) March 25, 2022
Un épisode venteux est annoncé tout le week-end dans le 06 alors que les derniers mois ont été secs et que le bilan de la saison de recharge en eau est très déficitaire.
Pour lire le communiqué de presse ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/sPHHZHvSWs
In Charente-Maritime, a fire burned 30 hectares of forest in the south of the department (Clérac) on Sunday (March 27), causing delays on TGV trains running between Paris and Bordeaux.
[INTERVENTION]— Pompiers17 (@SDIS17) March 27, 2022
L'incendie de #clérac est maîtrisé.
Engagement de 100 sapeurs-pompiers
Merci aux renforts @pompiers24
Avion de la sécurité civile @dgscgc @AJouassard
Crédit photo : Dragon 17
@Prefet17 @departement17 pic.twitter.com/ndps9jHKpU
Some 100 firefighters from Charente-Maritime, Charente and Gironde were deployed at the scene, along with a firefighting helicopter and plane carrying out airdrops of water.
Several inhabitants were also evacuated as a precaution, but were able to return home by the end of the day with no damage having been done to their homes.
In Gironde, a fire began at the side of a road near the centre of the town of Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, with a discarded cigarette butt thought to have been the cause.
The fire spread quickly and ten firefighting vehicles were deployed, quickly tackling the blaze so that it was limited to only one hectare.
⚠ Vigilance #feuxdeforêt— Préfète de Nouvelle-Aquitaine et Gironde (@PrefAquitaine33) March 9, 2022
En #Gironde, la vigilance est activée contre les #incendies depuis le 1er mars. La prudence est donc de mise pour protéger nos forêts.
Retrouvez toutes les infos https://t.co/vv764XMID1
✅Il convient de rappeler les bons réflexes à adopter⤵️ pic.twitter.com/Xlc2cUcTlc
The prefecture of Gironde had already called for caution from residents earlier this month, as the dry weather heightened the risk of forest fires.
In Jarzé (Maine-et-Loire), a forest fire destroyed two hectares of woodland on Saturday, and around 30 firefighters were called out to tackle it
On Sunday evening, a fire began in a forest near Vesc, in the south of the department of Drôme.
Some 44 firefighters and 11 vehicles were mobilised.
This week, the warm weather is expected to give way to rain and even snow in some places, which should help to prevent further fires from beginning.