“Strong risk of fire” in the Pyrénées-Orientales: Darmanin sends reinforcements

The Pyrénées-Orientales, which are suffering the full force of the drought and are fighting against the flames since several weeks, still present “high fire risks”. This is indicated by Gérald Darmanin, who announced on Monday the deployment of an additional device made available to firefighters to fight the flames.

“The conditions remain unfavorable this week in the Pyrénées-Orientales, with high risk of fire. Under the authority of the prefect, an important device has been prepositioned, indicates the Minister of the Interior on Twitter. On my instruction, in addition to departmental means, a water bomber helicopter and several intervention groups will be deployed”.

Conditions remain unfavorable this week in the Pyrénées-Orientales, with high fire risks. Under the authority of @Prefect66, an important device has been pre-positioned. On my instruction, in addition to departmental resources, a bomber helicopter…

— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) May 15, 2023

After a trying summer of 2022 on the forest fire front in France, the Pyrénées-Orientales were already the scene in mid-April of the first big fire of this year in the country, with flames that covered around 1,000 hectares.

While summer is going to be tough on the fires, the deputies examine from this Monday a battery of measures to better prevent forest fires. The bill, already unanimously adopted at first reading by the Senate, will be debated from 4 p.m. until Wednesday in the embly. It ped without difficulty the course of the examination in committee, in a consensual climate despite reservations from the left.

VIDEO. In the Pyrénées-Orientales, an “unprecedented” early drought visible from the sky

Global warming, with the increase in severe droughts, “will globally increase by 50% the exposure of French forests to the risk of forest fires by 2050”, underlined in committee the Renaissance deputy Sophie Panonacle, one of the rapporteurs of the text.

Faced with the proliferation of “non-standard” fires, sometimes affecting areas hitherto spared, the bill initiated by LR and centrist senators lays the foundations for a “national strategy”, involving all the actors concerned and including the agricultural areas. The text also wants to “better regulate the interfaces between forests” and urban areas and raise public awareness.

Obligation to clear brush

Among the measures planned, the Senate has reinforced the legal obligations of clearing for owners of land near forests, with increased penalties in the event of breaches, further increased by the deputies in committee. Another provision conditions the sale of land on compliance with these obligations, of which buyers and tenants must be better informed.

An authorization to use drones for the control of these clearings by the communities was added during the examination in committee by the deputies.

Faced with the many fires caused by cigarette butts, the text enshrines at the legislative level the prohibition of smoking in the woods or forests most exposed to the risk of fire, and up to 200 m from these areas, during “periods at risk “. And the throwing of cigarette butts is explicitly included among the causes of involuntary fire punishable by law.

An article enshrined in law the possibility for the prefect to prohibit certain agricultural work in the event of a high risk of fire, with compensation if necessary. “We would like this consensual text to be adopted and published before the summer,” said deputy LR Julien Dive in committee, stressing that “this winter’s drought now poses the risk of new large-scale forest fires. “.

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