Leaving at the end of the day Monday from Massegros, in the neighboring department of Lozère, the fire, started by an agricultural machine, then spread towards the village of Mostuéjouls, in Aveyron, noted an AFP correspondent.
Late Tuesday morning, the fire fanned by the wind and the drought was no longer progressing. Firefighters lit “tactical fires” to preemptively burn vegetation to halt the blaze’s advance.
The authorities have ordered the evacuation of the entire perched village of Mostuéjouls, located below the Causse de Sauveterre, in the Tarn gorges, not far from the coniferous forest in the grip of flames.
The people evacuated as a preventive measure from the villages of Rivière-sur-Tarn and Mostuéjouls were directed to village halls and schools in neighboring municipalities and Millau.
“The flames were a few hundred meters away, the gendarmes and the firefighters came to tell us to evacuate, we all had to leave in the middle of the night”, testifies Gabin Castro, manager of guest rooms, worried about his accommodation, treehouses.
– “Toxic fumes” –
“We are a few kilometers from the fire but we evacuated because of the toxic fumes”, declared for his part to AFP the manager of the campsite of the inn Le terroir in Mostuéjouls, Nicolas Bouviala, whose 200 customers have sheltered as a preventive measure in the village hall of the neighboring village of Rivière-sur-Tarn.
“The prefecture called and said: we have to start evacuating the campsite slowly. Half an hour later there was no one left,” he explained.
The fire started on the Sauveterre plateau because of an agricultural machine whose metallic element scraped the very hot tar of the road, causing sparks. In a context of great drought, part of a departmental road near Massegros, 60 kilometers east of Rodez, caught fire, according to firefighters.
The farmer driving the tractor called the emergency services himself, before using water from his tank to fight the flames. He also contacted several farmers who came to lend him a hand.
The boss of the Peyrelade campsite in Rivière-sur-Tarn, Eric Bassot, estimates that more than a thousand campers had to leave their vacation spot in the Tarn valley.
“Only campsites on the right bank of the Tarn were evacuated as a precaution, because those on the other bank are not threatened, specified Eric Bassot. Some campsite managers were surprised, because they did not see any immediate danger” .
Water bomber planes, already mobilized on Monday, resumed their rotations around 07:00, according to witnesses.
More than 600 firefighters from several departments (Aveyron, Lozère, Gard, Hérault, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, Aude, Alpes-maritimes, Tarn, Ariège, Haute-Garonne) are on site, according to the prefecture of Aveyron .
On June 18 and 19, 35 km from Mostuéjouls, a fire in Comprégnac (Aveyron) had covered 430 hectares of forest, without causing any victims. Dozens of people had been evacuated as a precaution.
With already more than 47,000 hectares burned since the beginning of the year, France experienced a record number of burned areas in July, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which has kept comparable statistics since 2006. .
In Isère, the fire ravaged a hundred hectares in a mountainous and uninhabited area not far from the municipalities of Voreppe and La Sure-en-Chartreuse. It has “still not been fixed” but it did not progress overnight, the prefecture said on Tuesday morning.
There too, around 200 people had to leave their homes, “due to falling burning plants”, according to the same source.