On Wednesday morning, the three water bomber planes of the Hérault firefighters resumed their flights to put out the fire which broke out the day before in two different places, burning 800 hectares of scrubland, holm oaks and vines in a sparsely populated area.

“We could see on the hill that the fire was progressing, then after we went home because the air was starting to be a little stuffy and it stung the eyes”, testified Tuesday with AFP Stéphanie Gauthier, resident of the village. of Aumelas.

She is one of some 130 out of 500 inhabitants of the town preventively evacuated for the night, in addition to the 150 participants in a wedding in a domain. On Wednesday, the evacuees were able to return to their homes.

“No casualties are to be deplored. No dwelling was affected by the fire”, recalled the prefecture on Wednesday.

This new fire comes a few days after the two “exceptional” fires which ravaged nearly 21,000 hectares of forest in Gironde for twelve days and led to the evacuation of some 36,000 people.

In this department of western France, some 500 firefighters are still on site to deal with “the edges and hot spots”, probably for weeks to come, Thomas Couturier, spokesman for the firefighters of the Gironde.

– Dune du Pilat reopened –

One of the department’s symbol sites, the Dune du Pilat, was however able to reopen on Wednesday in La Teste-de-Buch, “in secure conditions and with guided paths”.

In Hérault, firefighters also continue to treat the edges of the fire.

“A judicial inquiry has been opened on a criminal hypothesis,” said Montpellier prosecutor Fabrice Bélargent.

“We think it’s criminal,” said the mayor of Gignac Jean-François Soto.

In addition to the megafires in Gironde, several fires also affected the south-east of France this summer. 1,600 hectares notably went up in smoke south of Avignon in mid-July.

In the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, a fire which broke out on Tuesday in Rougon, a village perched on the heights of the Verdon Regional Natural Park, had covered 170 hectares of forest, announced Wednesday morning the director of the Departmental Service of Fire and Rescue (Sdis), Colonel Christophe Paichoux.

If the fire has been brought under control on several sides, it continues to progress in a very steep area composed of low vegetation, accessible only on foot, but where there are no dwellings, added the boss of the firefighters.

If summers are dry in the South, with global warming, the intensity of these episodes of drought is likely to increase further, according to UN climate experts.

In France, the level of drought has reached a record with 91 departments out of 96 forced to impose restrictions on the use of water.

“July 2022 will most likely be the driest July on record” since 1959, according to Météo-France.

The government is currently developing projects which should make it possible, from next year, to increase water storage capacity to “return it when farmers need it”, assured Wednesday on RTL the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Marc Fesneau.