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The French wildfires are caused in part by the French breaking the rules en masse. A special Senate committee has found that they are doing little to remove vegetation from around their homes, which could cause fires to spread more quickly.
In high-risk areas, residents are required to remove shrubs and shrubs within a radius of 50 meters around their home. This applies, for example, throughout Provence, as well as in Ardèche and Corsica. But in those areas, only 30 percent of the population adheres to these legal rules. Simply leave the vegetation alone. As a result, fires can spread and house burnings are also increasing.
“It is unacceptable that people do not follow the rules,” said commission member Pascal Martin. “We should punish individual perpetrators more strictly or else the government should remove the green spaces themselves.”
Now people are only fined 30 euros for each square meter of bushes that have not been removed. Mayors have to monitor compliance with the rules, but they rarely do. Senators suggest in their final report that violators of the law should pay themselves any fire damages. Insurance policies must be adapted for this purpose.
Replanting costs tens of millions
The release of the report comes shortly after the historic fires in Bordeaux last month. There, more than 20,000 hectares of forest have been reduced to ash. Senators calculated that replanting the area would cost at least 50 million euros.
Here are pictures from last month:
Forest fires destroy the French municipality of Landeras
According to the commission, France should prepare for more such major natural disasters. Dehydration and heat increase the risk. “By 2050, half of France’s forests and arid lands will be at increased risk of wildfires. In 2010, this was only a third of the area,” the report says.
The senators wrote that wildfires would also occur more frequently and would spread over a longer period of time. “The bushfire season now lasts 12 months of the year,” the National Fire Federation president told the committee.
The commission wants more money to go to fire brigades and emergency services and to buy more firefighting planes and helicopters. “The current fleet of fire extinguishers is not enough to do its job effectively in the future.”
47,000 hectares of roads
The wildfires near Bordeaux are now under complete control. But in the south of France, in the Pyrenees and along the Mediterranean, new fires are constantly breaking out due to drought. Most are still limited in size.
Since the beginning of this year, more than 47,000 hectares have caught fire across the country. This makes the damage in the first seven months of 2022 the worst in the past 15 years. Because of climate change, with rising temperatures and changing land use, the number of wildfires is increasing.
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