In Saumos, the fight of the firefighters to “maintain” the fire

On the departmental roads that pierce the forest, tank trucks and other all-terrain vehicles spin at full speed in the night, flashing lights on. In the charred part of the forest, several dozen stumps are still burning for miles. “We leave them, because they no longer threaten anything around” explain the firefighters. We can also see a completely burned vehicle on the side of the road, while further on, the stock of wood from a sawmill continues to be devoured by the flames.

Tuesday evening around 10 p.m., the activity of the firefighters was still very dense, because the situation was far from being under control in Saumos (Gironde), near Lacanau, where a gigantic fire broke out on Monday. Impressive, the plume of smoke had grown, and extended to the gates of Bordeaux in the evening, where a smell of smoke was felt by several inhabitants. This Wednesday, the Gironde prefecture announced that 300 additional hectares were burned overnight, bringing the total area of ​​forest destroyed by the fire to 3,500 hectares.

« Reconnaissance active »

The progress of the fire seems to be “slower, thanks to the wind which has fallen”, already noted in the evening Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Pitault, who accompanies us to the heart of the fire. “Even if there are still recoveries in several places, he adds immediately, showing worrying flames at the end of a path. As soon as we see a new outbreak of fire, our resources go immediately to it”.

This is the case behind this house on the edge of the forest. A truck “treats” the fire which is only a few meters from the house, and a dozen firefighters are waiting around the building, ready to intervene in turn to protect it if the fire should take longer. scale. The objective of the firefighters is that there are no injuries or destroyed homes. Tuesday evening, the balance sheet reported four homes totally or partially burned, while no serious injuries had been identified.

The “site”, as the firefighters call it, was divided into three sectors, with sub-sectors. “We crisscross the field with prepositioned resources that will work all night,” continues Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Pitault. They will do active reconnaissance. Between 400 and 500 firefighters, out of the 900 mobilized in all, including 300 from the Gironde, thus remained on the front until the early morning, and around 200 vehicles carried out rotations on the entire perimeter. “The objective is to keep the fire going all night,” continues the officer. In the morning we will see the extent with a reconnaissance by helicopter. »

Air assets left for another fire

During the day of Tuesday, winds from the south, southwest, which moreover are turning, posed enormous difficulties to the firefighters. “From 2 p.m., the fire reinvigorated and started again, which is why we evacuated a dozen additional homes at the level of a hamlet” analyzes the firefighter. In all, some 840 people have been evacuated since Monday, including 300 on Tuesday.

“In addition to that, we were deprived of air resources for part of the day, since they left for another fire in Vendays [à une quarantaine de kilomètres plus au nord], by virtue of the national doctrine which requires that aerial means be used on an incipient fire, in order to extinguish it as quickly as possible. Suddenly, only the firefighters on the ground were able to work, and even if they managed to limit its progression, the fire started again. »

“It disadvantaged us, because the fire could grow on the sides, recognizes the prefect Fabienne Buccio, but this tactic has proven itself, with the aim of avoiding having two fronts at the same time. Indeed, the situation in Vendays had become “favorable” at the end of the day, and only about ten hectares burned. The air resources, namely three Canadair, two Dash and three bomber helicopters were able to return to Saumos late Tuesday afternoon, and continue their drops until 8:30 p.m.

Dry vegetation and high temperatures

In the end, the Saumos fire still covered 1,500 hectares on Tuesday. “This fire is complicated because we are on extremely dry vegetation, with high temperatures when we are in mid-September, and with rotating winds” continues the prefect.

The authorities were particularly worried on Tuesday, when the fire “passed a strategic point, namely Departmental 6, which opens the door to the town of Sainte-Hélène, explains Fabienne Buccio. We hope to be able to stop it there… The firefighters will fight all night for that”.

Source: 20Minutes – Une by

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