On the roads that lead to the disaster zone, through the evacuated villages and hamlets, between vineyards and pine forests, the signs hung on closed gates and empty houses flourished: “Thank you for our lives and our forest”, “You are heroes”, “Courage to the firefighters”.

“This surge of solidarity, it touches us”, remarks Lucas Frangeul, “tired”. This young firefighter from Essonne is sitting on a cot in the school of the small unevacuated town of Saint-Michel-de-Rieufret, 500 inhabitants, which serves as a place of retreat for his column arriving as regional reinforcements Paris from July 14, two days after the start of the fire.

“The population does a lot of things for us. The other day, a gentleman came to make us a paella. To thank them, we sometimes put the children in the trucks,” he said. His more experienced colleagues “never saw that”.

These Ile-de-France residents returned from the fire at 5:00 a.m., after almost 24 hours in operation, are preparing to return there around noon. They are responsible for monitoring the back of the fire, which burned 13,600 hectares of forest on Wednesday. They “drown edges” and project themselves on any resumption of fire.

At the school, firefighters go back and forth between cots, showers and the dining area or chat near vehicles. Others prepare their package. Hammocks are stretched between trees.

“We rest as soon as we can but it’s our job to feel tired,” says Florian Hendriks, 34, from Seine-et-Marne.

The attentions and generosity of the population, which are measured in particular a few km away, in the village hall of Landiras where food donations flow, “it strengthens us in our desire to fight”, assures Mr. Hendriks. “We are in symbiosis”.

Not far away, Corporal Florent Lemoine is brushing his teeth. “We just woke up, and we’re leaving,” he slips, motivated. “We want to break our heads in the fire and protect the houses as if they were ours”.

“It’s sad to see that but it’s stimulating in terms of operational technique,” adds the corporal. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a fire like that, atypical in its size and its spread. Not to mention the temperatures (scorching heat, editor’s note)”.

In the village hall of Landiras, the utilities loaded with food and various products flock. At the rear, hundreds of water packs are stored and dozens of refrigerated trucks mobilized.

“We are overwhelmed with donations. We have even been forced to limit the flow”, explains Florence Bolmont, an assistant to the mayor of Landiras.

Firefighters can find everything they need there: talcum powder for foot pain, hygiene products, biscuits, compotes, hot and cold drinks, towels… “We can serve 3,000 meals a day”, underlines Miss Bolmont.

“The generosity of people is incredible”, testifies Delphine Fauvel, municipal elected official and volunteer, and the “firefighters are so happy and grateful, it’s touching”, she says.

Firefighters can get a massage or have sores treated. Osteopath at Cadillac and evacuee resident of Landiras, Elisabeth Barbe “needed” to help. With other professionals, they take turns 24 hours a day to relieve “exhausted men and women”.

“There are contracted bodies, backs weakened by the spears, injuries to the feet because of the Rangers,” she lists. “But they have a good mind.”

Nearly 2,000 firefighters, firefighters, rescuers and 200 foresters are mobilized in Gironde, supported Wednesday by 6 Canadair and two Dash.