350 hectares burned, six firefighters injured
A violent fire broke out this Sunday in the Gard, in the town of Aubais, south of Nîmes, causing a large plume of smoke.
The fire broke out around 3 p.m. along departmental road 12. Already 350 hectares of pine forests and holm oaks have gone up in smoke, according to a press release from the fire brigade. Two houses in particular were affected by the flames.
A seriously injured firefighter
Six firefighters were injured. One of them, « seriously burned in the hands and face », was evacuated to the Montpellier Hospital Center. His vital prognosis is not engaged. Three others were more lightly injured following a reversal of the flames by the wind which partly destroyed their vehicle. Two others were victims of “heat stroke”.
530 firefighters and 170 vehicles are currently engaged to fight the flames. “The fire, whose intensity is dropping sharply, is a favorable development but is not fixed,” adds the press release from the SDIS du Gard. « We have good hopes of being able to fix (contain) the fire by tomorrow », said Commander William Borelly at 10 p.m., even if at nightfall, the planes and the water bomber helicopter had to stop their drops.
Some preventive evacuations in Aubais neighborhoods were underway and a multipurpose room was opened in the village to accommodate these residents.
As a security measure, the A9, which serves Spain in particular, was closed for several hours in both directions for traffic over ten kilometers between Lunel and Gallargues. It was reopened around 7:45 p.m. Along the highway, the large plume of smoke made the sky gray and orange in places.
The A709 urban motorway, on the outskirts of Montpellier, was reopened in the evening after a short closure as a safety measure, the motorway company announced.
The Gard was placed on Saturday, for the first time this season, in “extreme danger” level for the forest fire risk in the Gard Rhodanien area.
Another fire in progress in the Bouches-du-Rhône
In the Bouches-Rhône, about twenty kilometers from Marseille, a fire which broke out at the end of the afternoon near Pennes-Mirabeau, covered 35 hectares, according to the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service ( Sdis). Some 200 houses threatened by the flames have been protected.
A thick plume of smoke was visible above the A7 motorway. A traffic jam formed on the detour route on this day back from vacation. Planes dropped retardant in the hills and the scrubland to prevent the spread of the fire while many fire trucks went to the area.