9 biggest fires in France, the most devastating

The summer of 2022 is experiencing some of the most devastating fires that France has ever known. Early forest fires, which start on July 15 rather than August 20; newly affected regions such as the Breton moor; and nearly 40,000 evacuees. The result is 25 times more area burned at the same time as last year. The worst part is that this hell isn’t over yet.

We look together at the other fires that have ravaged France since the end of the 2nd World War.

1. 1976: Palmyra and the 80,000 hectares burned

During the drought of 1976, La Palmyre in Charente-Maritime was particularly affected and hundreds of holidaymakers stuck between the fires and the ocean were evacuated by boat. Brittany is also taken by the flames with 150 fire starts in 5 days. The Landes lose 4000 hectares. 1976 was the record year with more than 80,000 hectares of land burned. Already 46 years ago, hell existed.

2. 2003: one of the worst results

The Southeast was completely devastated by the heat waves of this beginning of the 21st century. The Maures and Esterel mountains were decimated by 20%, 20,000 hectares went up in smoke and 7 people died, including 3 firefighters. Corsica lost 15,000 hectares in one of the most devastating forest fires in its history. In total, more than 73,000 hectares burned during the summer of 2003. A tragedy.

3. 1949: the Landes on fire, the deadliest summer

In 1949, the Landes saw 50,000 hectares taken up by fires and 82 people lost their lives, firefighters, rescuers, soldiers and forest water agents. To this day, it remains the deadliest forest fire in the history of France. The fault is three previous summers of drought, a forest in very poor condition following the war, and fire control techniques still in their infancy.

4. 1990: the Massif des Maures in flames

You should know that forest fires affect France rather at the end of August, following periods of drought and heat waves. At the end of August, the Massif des Maures, near Marseille, was affected to the tune of 12,500 hectares. Between Marseille and Nice, it will finally be 23,000 hectares and 2,000 people evacuated during the last days of August.

5. 1989: the summer of heat waves

The month of July 1989 saw several heat waves follow one another. Lacanau lost 5,000 hectares, and the forests around Marseille 10,000 hectares. Admittedly, these figures seem less impressive than in other summers, but Marseille and its surroundings still see a large part of their forests destroyed. This summer will have been the door open to the ravages of the fires of the following year (thus of 1990, the point which is just above).

6. 2009: the beginning of the rest of our lives

At the end of July, Corsica was hard hit with a long period of drought: the Gravona valley, the north of Ajaccio, Sartène and Aullène, for a total of 5,300 hectares of burnt forests. After 2009, every summer will experience strong fires, with greater intensity in recent years.

7. 2016: Marseille still on fire

As usual, it’s the Southeast who takes. In 2016, 3300 hectares were taken by the flames. The forest fire stops at the gates of Marseille, after having affected 1,500 houses and left 33 injured. At the end of the summer, the Bouches-du-Rhône will see 5,000 hectares disappear.

8. 2017: the Southeast extremely affected

From then on, it’s as if each summer saw all the forests of France catch fire. Vaucluse, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône and Haute-Corse lost 7,000 hectares of forest, due to strong winds and obviously severe drought. At the end of July, the coastal town of Bormes-les-Mimomas in the Var evacuated 10,000 people because of a potential fire which could have invaded the town.

9. 2021: the Massif des Maures, once again

We could have thought that the Covid and the confinements would have calmed human activities but no, nothing stops us. Once again, the poor Massif des Maures was devastated. 6,000 hectares burned, 10,000 people evacuated and two people died in their homes. 70% of the Maures national nature reserve ends up in smoke, which is the most violent fire in the last 20 years in the department.

Notice how half of the biggest fires in French history have all taken place in the past 13 years. Either the trees are big fragile ones, or the climate change is intensifying more and more.

Strength to all firefighters, and all the forces fighting against these fires.

Sources: Liberation, Le Figaro, Ouest-France, Yahoo

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