Several hundreds of hectares across nine departments in France were destroyed by forest fires this weekend, causing evacuations in the Pyrénées-Orientales and the Ardèche.
Hundreds of firefighters have been mobilised in the Charente-Maritime, Indre, Aude, Ardèche, Gironde, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hérault and the Pyrénées-Orientales, after flames broke out.
More than 220 firefighters were on-site to fight a blaze that appeared to be threatening homes in Banyuls-sur-Mer in the Pyrénées-Orientales. Around 100 people were evacuated as a precaution. The fire was contained around midday and no homes were damaged, but 33 hectares were scorched.
Gendarmerie in the Gironde have launched an appeal for witnesses after fire was declared near Saint-Christoly-de-Blaye, with more than 20 hectares destroyed.
Around a dozen fires have been confirmed since the beginning of July, with gendarmerie believing they are of “criminal origin”. An inquiry is continuing.
The A7 motorway in the Bouches-du-Rhône was temporarily shut after fire was declared at around 17h30 on Thursday, next to the road, at the intersection between the A7 and the A51.
More than 150 firefighters and 40 engines attended, with the road becoming safe to reopen at around 00h30, according to motorway authority, Autoroutes du Sud de la France.
In the Charente-Maritime, more than 150-200 hectares were destroyed as 450 firefighters attended a fire on Wednesday (September 4). Around a dozen people were evacuated but all have now been allowed to return home.
The fire has now been stabilised, but local authorities have said that it was “probably” started deliberately in three separate places. An inquiry has been launched.
Around 350 firefighters were called to the Indre, in the forêt de Lancosme, with 150 hectares burned in the region’s biggest fire of the summer.
In the Aude, around 150 hectares of pine trees were destroyed, but no-one was injured, despite four firefighters being forced to flee their engine, and 500 personnel being joined by 12 firefighting planes.
Two fires – declared at around the same time – caused a campsite in the Ardèche to be evacuated.
In the Gard, several forest fires prompted around 120 firefighters to attend, plus one plane. One firefighter was slightly injured, and around 20 hectares were burned before the fire was stabilised.
In the Hérault, around 25 small fires were declared, with more than 150 firefighters attending the largest blaze near Villeveyrac, with around 20 hectares confirmed as destroyed.