FOCUS – In Gironde, the fires which have burned 20,800 hectares are for one “under control” and for the other “fixed” even if they are not yet extinguished. In Ardèche, a 44-year-old man, suspected arsonist, was indicted and remanded in custody on Friday.
The “controlled” fire in La Teste-de-Buch, the fire fixed in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, an alleged arsonist indicted in Ardèche … Le Figaro takes stock of the fires that are ravaging French vegetation.
Fires in Ardèche: indictment of the alleged arsonist
The 40-year-old who confessed to having caused several fires that ravaged 1,200 hectares on Wednesday and Thursday in Ardèche was indicted and placed in pre-trial detention, announced the Privas prosecution. This 44-year-old man was arrested and placed in police custody on Wednesday, presenting a “significant alcohol content”. He had confessed “Confronted with the numerous testimonies collected by the investigators” establishing his presence and that of his car on the start of the fires, the prosecution had indicated on Thursday.
He was charged with arson, “crime punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment”, said Privas prosecutor Cécile Deprade in a brief press release. A total of 12 fire starts were observed on Wednesday in Ardèche, in particular in Lussas, near Aubenas. These fires covered 1,200 hectares without causing any casualties, mobilizing up to 600 men. Friday, still remained “a few fumaroles in stony places, difficult to access”according to Commander Lionel Lepaulmier, of the SDIS relief operations in Ardèche. “You have to be careful with the heat and the winds which return on Saturday morning”however, warned this official.
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Gironde: the fire “under control” in La Teste-de-Buch
The fire that burned 7,000 hectares of forest in La Teste-de-Buch, in the Bassin d’Arcachon, is now “mastered” but not yet extinct, the Gironde prefecture said on Friday. “The work carried out in recent days in this sector makes it possible to classify the fire as being under control”, wrote in a press release the prefecture, which had declared the fire “fixed” July 23. This term of “mastered” means that “the risks of recovery are now considered limited and that a major resumption of the fire is ruled out”, according to the prefecture. The next step will be to declare it “off”which could still take some time.
“Work to secure the outline of the fire and deal with hot spots continues” in La Teste-de-Buch, explains the prefecture, which points out that “The fire zones remain dangerous, with many remaining smokehouses and a significant risk of falling trees whose roots have been destroyed by the fire”. This fire in La Teste is one of the two “exceptional” fires which devoured 20,800 hectares of forest from July 12 in Gironde, forcing more than 36,000 people to leave their homes. The other disaster took place in the Landiras sector, in the south of the department, where 13,800 hectares of pines went up in smoke. This fire is “fixed” since monday but not yet “mastered”. Images shot this Friday also showed the forest and campsites on the Girondin coast ravaged after the fires.
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The fire in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence fixed, 300 hectares burned
The Rougon fire in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, which has devastated 300 hectares of vegetation since Tuesday, could be fixed, announced the prefecture on Friday. “He nevertheless remains under close surveillance by the firefighters still positioned on the spot, supported by a helicopter detachment”, she insisted in a press release. Some 400 people had to be evacuated Wednesday evening from a campsite in Castellane in the face of the progression of this fire in the town of Rougon, a village perched on the heights of the Verdon Regional Natural Park.
New heat wave from Monday
Barely out of a heat wave, mainland France will experience a new episode from Monday, said the Weather Channel* this Friday. After an already very hot weekend in the south, the high temperatures will progress towards the Loire on Monday and then cover 80% of the territory on Tuesday. The very high temperatures (>35°C) will affect the entire southern half on Monday and the regions south of the Loire on Tuesday. Peaks at 40°C will be possible in the Landes and in the lower Rhône valley. The heat wave alert will take effect from Monday afternoon for some departments of Occitania, the Rhône Valley and Provence. The peak of very hot weather is expected on Wednesday with between 34 and 38°C in general over three quarters of the country.
*The Weather Channel is a property of the Figaro group.
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Three departments want “states general” of the Landes de Gascogne forest
The PS presidents of the departments of Gironde, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne have called for the organization this fall of“states general of the Landes de Gascogne massif”, after the fires that burned nearly 21,000 hectares of forest in Gironde. Jean-Luc Gleyze, President of Gironde and of the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (SDIS) 33, Sophie Borderie, President of Lot-et-Garonne and SDIS 47, and Xavier Fortinon, President of Landes, sent a letter to this effect to Fabienne Buccio, prefect of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.
They feel that “the two terrible fires which now scar the Girondin coast (7000 hectares burned in La Teste-de-Buch, editor’s note) and the Landes de Gascogne forest (20,800 hectares burned in the Landiras sector)” generate questions that will need to be “to pose collectively”, “once the ashes have cooled”. According to them, we must remove “A feedback that is beneficial so that in the future, while climate change is at work, we are no longer confronted with fires of such magnitude”. “We will have to talk about the relationship between town planning and forest, organization of space, services to the massif, its accessibility, replanting and forest maintenance, vulnerability to other risks such as storms”they say.
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