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People – not natural events – caused recent wildfire, says Var MP

There is no evidence of lightning or other natural causes, says centrist MP, who is also calling for the public to support decisions taken by authorities over how to fight fires

Canadair planes have been deployed to fight the fire Pic: chiosphotographer / Shutterstock

An MP for the Var department says humans caused the fire which has destroyed thousands of hectares there and is being linked to a death and a disappearance. 

Philippe Michel-Kleisbauer (pictured right) said in a statement: “Whether deliberate or not, as there is so far no natural explanation – Météo France has not detected any lightning strikes – one or several individuals are responsible for this disaster.”

MP Philippe Michel-Kleisbauer

Pic: / MaximeHG (CC BY-SA 4.0

A member of the centrist MoDem party, he said this “sad episode” reminds him of the “tragedy” of 2003, when over a two-month period seven major fires destroyed 50,000 hectares and caused deaths of three firefighters and four other people.

He said it would be “interesting” to know if anyone has proof of a fire having started naturally in the Var, however in his view the cause is of human origin. 

“It can never be stressed enough to smokers that a single butt is enough to start a disaster like this,” he said.

Even ‘material’ damage caused by such fires, in some cases replaceable, could in other cases be profoundly upsetting and traumatic when items of sentimental value are destroyed, he added.

Mr Michel-Kleisbauer also wrote in support of the firefighters and the way decisions are taken when such fires break out, asking that people should not be quick to judge.

He said firefighters and pilots of helicopters and planes that spray water on the flames, willingly take on a dangerous job. We should respect them, along with members of the communal forest fire committees who are involved in the process, he said.

They have difficult decisions to make on matters such as how heavily to deploy against fire breakouts and whether or not evacuations are necessary, and they are taken according to a set hierarchy of orders, he said.

He also said that there is a longstanding rule, based on scientific studies, that in these cases firefighting is concentrated around inhabited areas. He said those concerned about loss of biodiversity should realise that in the long-term nature comes back, and a fire can in some cases even have a regenerating effect. 

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New wildfires hit south of France, one death reported in Var blaze

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