Wildfire on the Côte d'Azur: Situation remains tense
The huge wildfire in the countryside of the Côte d'Azur rages on while firefighters battle to save lives, land, and vineyards.
The Gonfaron wildfire has destroyed more than 8,000 hectares of land since Monday evening - more than all the fires in the neighbouring Alpes-Maritimes (Nice, Antibes, Cannes, etc.) in the last 17 years, according to the local newspaper Nicematin. The full extent of the disaster is only gradually becoming clear. Flora and fauna, especially Hermann's turtle reserve, which is native to the Var and protected, will take years to recover. Winegrowers of the popular Côtes-de-Provence wines fear for their harvest.
On Thursday, the aim was to get the fire under control, the prefecture of the Var reported at noon. The wind had died down and the flames were spreading less rapidly. In the early evening, however, they were informed that fires had flared up again in five places in the north-eastern area of the fire: in the municipalities of Vidauban, Les Mayons and Le Luc. The main task of the fire brigade is currently to secure the fire perimeter of more than 80 kilometres, i.e. to prevent the fire from spreading further.
Today, between 1100 and 1200 firefighters with 250 vehicles are still on the scene. 130 additional firefighters from the north and west of the country have arrived for reinforcement.
A total of 789 aircraft and helicopter loads of water were poured over the fire yesterday.
The casualty toll has not increased since yesterday. So far, there are two fatalities and 26 injured (7 firefighters with minor injuries and 19 civilians who suffered mostly smoke inhalation).
The following roads are still closed today due to the fire: RD 33 (Le Luc - Les Mayons) - RD 75 (between junction RD33/RD75 and La Garde-Freinet) - RD 558 (Le Cannet-des-Maures - La Garde-Freinet) - RD 14 (Grimaud) - RD 2048 (Grimaud) - RD 48 (Vidauban - La Garde-Freinet) - RD 74 (Vidauban - Plan-de-la-Tour) - RD75 (Gonfaron - La Garde-Freinet).
**UPDATE Friday 20 AUG:
The Prefect of the Var has reported that fire crews have contained the fire, which means it is no longer spreading. Crews are working hard to extinguish the flames before winds are expected to return this evening.
From their statement:
The next three days will be decisive to get rid of this fire while remaining extremely vigilant on all the forest massifs of the department, all of which are maintained at VERY SEVERE fire risk, which means that access to them is strictly forbidden.
The prefect, together with the elected representatives, also wishes to prepare for the aftermath of the crisis by setting up a one-stop shop to come to the aid of those affected by the fire, in conjunction with the communes, the association of mayors and the consular chambers. A meeting will be held on Tuesday 24 August at the prefecture to present the details.