Fires ravage Europe
First broadcast date
Affected by a heat wave, Europe is facing many fire starts.
In Spain, in the village of Mojacar, the inhabitants were evacuated in front of the fire spreading. Two people died in Sardinia. Italy has asked for help to the Rapid Reaction Force of the European Union. In Greece, three hundred twenty fire starts were recorded. Firefighters are overwhelmed with work.
France 2 - Own production
- Landscapes and environment / Protection of Natural environments
Credits / Cast
- Bernard Renaud - Journalist
- Spain - South - Mojacar
- Italy - Islands - Sardinia
Fires Ravage Europe
24 July 2009, the maps used in the film show a southern Europe in the grip of many outbreaks of forest fires. On the east coast of Spain, in Corsica, in Greece, in southern Italy and in Sardinia, flames spread rapidly, pushed by dry winds and fed by a forest cover which the hot summer has made highly inflammable. Despite the efforts of the firemen and the mobilisation of the most modern techniques for dropping water from the air, the fire-fighters are overwhelmed. Italy asked for help from Europe's Rapid Response Unit. The material and human cost of these few days was heavy. In Italy 15,000 to 20,000 hectares went up in smoke, while Spain lost 17,000 to 20,000 hectares. Unfortunately these terrible events hit local inhabitants particularly hard. At Mojacar, a holiday resort on the coast in the Andalusian province of Almeria, 15,000 people had to be evacuated. In Italy the fires killed a shepherd and a farmer, while in Spain 6 firemen died.
1993, 1994, 2003 (417,000 hectares devastated in Portugal alone), 2007 for Greece (more than 60 dead, hundreds of homes and 270,000 hectares of forest destroyed), 2009...these fires just keep coming. News film grabbed at the scene, the media most frequently show us spectacular footage of the flames while emphasising the grief and terror of the huge numbers of people being evacuated – without forgetting the courage of the fire-fighters and their relentless efforts to stop the advance of this evil. Whether started with criminal intent or accidentally, these disasters are presented as something that just happens, a fatality linked to natural elements: a fragile forest with extremely inflammable undergrowth, dry winds, a very hot summer. The importance and scope of these disasters mean that two utterly false ideas are propagated and given credance: these fires are a new phenomenon and they threaten the very existence of the Mediterranean forest. But in fact neither is true. There have always been forest fires in the Mediterranean. They were even a part of the annual cycle as a way of clearing the land and growing food. Far from declining, the Mediterranean forest in southern Europe is actually expanding and spreading fast. Since the 19th century and the early 20th century, it is growing back into spaces which have been progressively abandonned by agriculture and man. In Spain, Portugal and France this return of the forest has been encouraged by sometimes huge re-forestation policies. Unfortunately the increase in badly exploited spaces and of inflammable species like the eucalyptus only enlarge the area of inflammable forest. As diffuse urbanism sprawls across the countryside, the new peri-urban populations are in the front-line and in considerable danger, particularly during the summer season with the arrival of thousands of tourists.
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