A wildfire in southern France caused major road and rail delays on Tuesday (July 25).
The blaze in Cagnes-sur-Mer, near Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), was one of several to be sparked by high winds and temperatures.
Fires also broke out at Argelès-sur-Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales), Bairols (Alpes-Maritimes), Hyères (Var) and Draguignan (Var)
Three-hour delays on trains
The fire at Cagnes-sur-Mer, which was near the A8 motorway and the rail line, caused major delays for travellers.
It broke out mid-afternoon in some vegetation bordering the road, leading to severe delays for drivers between Antibes and Nice.
Vehicles were advised against driving on either the A8 or N7 roads, as firefighters rushed to tackle the blaze.
A water-bombing helicopter was used and had to fly over 12 times before the fire was extinguished.
The videos below show the fire, and the heavy smoke emanating from the burning vegetation.
Départ de #feu important commune de #VilleneuveLoubet en bordure de #A8 et #RD6007— Nice Météo 06 (@NiceMeteo06) July 25, 2023
Conditions météorologiques défavorables (hum23% Vt50km/h et temp33°C) ⚠️ Évitez le secteur et ne pas encombrer 112
Vidéo Redouanne Chouana #Meteo06 pic.twitter.com/0MrxdjIzZk
The fire was put out around 18:45.
It caused severe delays for trains in the area, with no services running between Nice and Antibes.
This led to a knock-on effect for TGV services between the south-east of the country and Paris, as well as on rush hour commuter rail journeys between the Italian border and Cannes.
This video, taken by Connexion intern Léon Xu, shows commuters at Monaco Monte-Carlo station cheering the arrival of a train after waiting more than three hours.
Crowd cheering at Monaco train station last evening, after a nearly 3h traffic stop due to a wildfire near Cagnes-sur-Mer. pic.twitter.com/HWmrVvkPVi— Léon Xu (@LonXu3) July 26, 2023
Hundreds of firefighters mobilised in the south
A wildfire near Arlès led to around 300 firefighters being mobilised, as two hectares of vegetation was destroyed.
Firefighters also had to use water planes to put out the fire.
Elsewhere in Argelès-sur-Mer, around one hundred firefighters were called – and a water-bombing helicopter deployed – to battle a five-hectare blaze.
Firefighters also relied on three water planes to help tackle the fire from spreading.
Météo France issues further warnings
Météo France’s forest fire map highlighted 14 departments as being at increased risk for blazes on Wednesday (July 26).
Of these, three – Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse, and Var, are at a tier-three orange warning – the second highest warning available.
Credit: Météo France
Two departments - Bouches-du-Rhône and Var - have been put on a tier-three warning on Thursday (July 27).
Credit: Météo France
How do I avoid forest fires?
Around 90% of forest and wildfires are man-made – whether intentionally or not – and the government has issued advice on how to limit the risk of them starting.
The advice includes:
- Keeping up to date with weather and forest fire warnings using Météo France
- Putting cigarette butts in ashtrays and not throwing them on the floor
- Storing flammable materials and products away from vegetation and your home
- If you are organising a barbecue, avoid a wooden terrace
- Clearing undergrowth from around your property and land
In the case of the latter, a series of laws mean it could be mandatory to débroussailler in your area.
If you are found guilty of starting a wildfire, you could face severe penalties.
Those who unintentionally start a fire could face between one and seven years in prison, and a fine between €10,000 and €100,000, depending on the damage and number of fatalities.
If you intentionally start a fire, the penalties rise to between two and ten years in prison, and a €30,000 – €150,000 fine.
If you are caught in a forest or wildfire, the government recommends immediately alerting the firefighters by calling 18, 114 (the number for hard-of-hearing people) or 112 (the European Emergency number).
You should take shelter inside a house, blocking doors and air vents and putting a damp cloth over your nose and mouth.