A spectacular fire which took place Thursday evening in a forest in the heart of Anglet (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) is “under control on all sides” Friday morning, after having caused the destruction of 165 hectares of forests and vegetation, of some houses, without cause victims, according to the authorities.
“Thank goodness”, the human toll is “not heavy”, said Eric Spitz, the prefect of the department at a press point alongside Claude Olive, LR mayor of Anglet (40,000 inhabitants).
“About twenty people passed through the hospital but all came out without any problem, including 2 firefighters and 9 police officers,” continued the prefect.
In addition, “5 to 6 houses were partially or completely destroyed, 100 hectares of forest and 65 hectares of vegetation within the burnt housing estates”, he detailed.
The prefect specified that the fire was “under control on all sides. We have four teams of 20 people who extinguish the last sparks. We also have teams who will watch the field because the wind will pick up again at the end of the day. morning”.
Friday morning, the Canadair had resumed work and 150 firefighters, 60 police officers and Samu teams have been mobilized since the day before, recalled the representative of the State.
The mayor of Anglet, very moved, spoke of “a spectacle of desolation that makes you want to cry”.
If the origin of the fire is still unknown, the mayor said he felt “anger”, stressing that in “a very busy forest” like that of Chiberta, in the heart of the city, “there are rules to be observed” .
The Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, on BFMTV, called on the population to show “common sense”, recalling that “90 pc of fires were of human origin and 80 pc near homes”.
“Avoidable fires, there are many,” she added, recalling not to light fires or barbecues, throw cigarette butts or do work causing sparks, near forests.
An investigation was opened by the Bayonne prosecutor’s office for “destruction by fire”, prosecutor Jérôme Bourrier announced in a statement.
The investigation, which will have to establish whether the origin of the loss is voluntary or accidental, was entrusted to the antenna of the judicial police of Bayonne.
The prosecutor recalls that “even in the absence of intention”, the destruction of forests “is likely to constitute an offense” punishable by 5 to 7 years of imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 euros.
The fire broke out late Thursday afternoon, fueled by the wind and fueled by drought and high heat.
“Yesterday evening, the weather conditions were terrible with sometimes leaps of fire from 50 to 100 m”, said the prefect.
The flames ravaged hectares of pine forest in the Chiberta forest, in the heart of Anglet, forcing the evacuation of many homes.
This wooded area of over 250 hectares is located in the city center, between the Adour River and the Atlantic, bordered in particular by a prestigious golf course and luxurious villas.
A true island of greenery within the densely populated Bayonne-Biarritz-Anglet agglomeration, it is “a large pine forest with tall trees that are very difficult to reach”, explained the secretary general of the prefecture Eddie Bouttera.
From the start of the evening, dozens of people were forced to leave their homes as a matter of urgency.
The South-West experienced very hot weather on Thursday. Saint-Jean-de-Luz, not far from Anglet on the Basque coast, broke its temperature record with 41.9 ° C recorded by Météo-France.
Further north, in Gironde, a forest fire devoured more than 295 ha of pine trees on Monday, also fueled by the summer drought.
31/07/2020 13:21:01 – Anglet (AFP) – © 2020 AFP