Severe forest fire alerts across south of France

Firefighters have warned residents to be on alert as the government issues fire prevention advice

The south of France is on alert for forest fires today (July 19), with many local forest areas and roads forbidden to access, as the government releases advice on how to prevent wildfires.

The alerts come as 61 departments across the country are currently experiencing drought conditions and restrictions.

In the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, 14 forest areas in the Bouches-du-Rhône department are closed, including the areas of Arbois, Montagnette, and Alpilles. Firefighters in the area have called on residents to be especially alert.

In the Var, nine forest areas remain open, but seven are on high alert for fire. This week, the Maures area was closed due to very high risk.

In the Vaucluse, authorities confirmed that the areas of Monts de Vaucluse, Luberon and Basse Durance would only be open from 5h to midday.

In the Pyrénées-Orientales, the areas of Fenouillèdes, Corbières, Roussillon plains and the Albères were at a high risk of fire, with residents warned to be especially alert. Driving motor vehicles on any non-tarmac road in these areas has also been forbidden.

In the Aude, the risk of fire is still high across the entire department, after 300 people were forced to be evacuated from the area last week. Similar alerts are in place across the Gard and the Hérault, with forest areas such as Mourgues - near Villeneuve-les-Avignon - closed to the public everyday from midday to 7h30 until further notice.

In view of the high fire risk, the government has reminded residents of its advice on how to prevent forest fires.

Advice includes:

  • Do not smoke in forests or woods, and do not throw any cigarette butts out of your window or car window
  • Do not light a fire if you are within 200 metres of a forest, even if you feel that you have taken the correct precautions
  • Do not light any barbecues in the forest
  • Camp only in authorised, safe and protected areas
  • Do not use your vehicle anywhere except on authorised, tarmacked roads
  • Respect the conditions and restrictions of entry of any forest or wooded area

If you see any fire or notice any smoke:

  • Call the fire brigade on 18, or 112, giving them as precise a location as you can
  • If it is safe, try to put the fire out yourself with earth, sand, or water
  • Do not try to contain the flames with forest material, such as branches or leaves
  • If you are at home, stay inside, close the windows, turn off any gas sources, and only evacuate if told to do so by authorities
  • Do not get out of your car if you are surprised by fire while driving
  • If you are on foot, seek protection from fire, such as behind a rock, earth ledge, or a wall

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