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Homes evacuated: Dry weather leads to multiple wildfires across France

Blazes were reported in western, eastern and southeastern regions over the weekend. At least one is thought to have been started by a discarded cigarette butt

Firefighters have been called out to forest fires across France this weekend Pic: Toa55 / Shutterstock

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. 

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur 

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.

Read more: Alpes-Maritimes already on drought warning after unusually dry winter

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.

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

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.

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.

The prefecture of Gironde had already called for caution from residents earlier this month, as the dry weather heightened the risk of forest fires. 

Pays-de-la-Loire 

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

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes 

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. 

Related articles 

Warm weather to give way to 10° temperature drop in France this week

Floods, heatwaves: New report predicts global warming effect on France

Bungalows in France at most risk of drought-related subsidence

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