a gigantic deforestation operation to stop the flames

In the middle of the pines, a gigantic no man’s land of white sand takes shape as the chainsaws cut down the remaining trees one by one: in Gironde, deforestation operations are underway to create firewalls, in order to break the advancing flames. The most spectacular is to the south of the town of La Teste-de-Buch, just 5 km from the
«non-standard» brazierwhich ravaged 7,000 hectares of pine forest in the space of nine days.

With its dimensions of 5 km long and 200 m wide, the site, starting from the ocean to Lake Cazaux, is “titanic”according to the National Forestry Office (ONF). Since Friday, some 70 people, supported by 45 engines, have been working there day and night.

It’s a real ballet of machines. Harvesters grab and cut tree trunks, transported out of the area using skidder tractors. The rest of the vegetation is crushed and the soil cleaned using diggers and bulldozers to be exposed, explains the ONF.

“Firewalls, there are everywhere in the Southwest”

All that remains at the end is a long strip of incombustible sand used by firefighters in the support area. “It’s our ultimate line of defense if the fire should go south again. We consider that we must stop it there, whatever happens. It’s the worst-case scenario.” emphasizes Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Mendousse.

The tool has already proven itself in the region and regularly allows firefighters to intervene quickly. “Firewalls, there are everywhere in the Southwest, often at the edge of plots, in state, communal and even private forests. On a very large network, but in this case, this firewall there is colossal, four to five times wider » than the usual firewalls, specify Fabrice Sin, director of the Agency Studies and Works of the ONF Center Ouest Aquitaine.

“You have to know how to sacrifice to save the rest”

This is the second lane in this same area, the first being at ” few hundreds ” meters from the blaze, according to firefighters. A third buffer zone is also being created further north with trenches “from 50 to 80 meters wide” to preserve the main roads and homes in the Bassin d’Arcachon.

Other cordons are also being created around the Landiras fire, the second to currently hit the Gironde, 40 km south of Bordeaux, to circumscribe a perimeter of 60 km2. “
There are weeks, it’s gigantic “,
adds Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Mendousse.

Accustomed to working with firefighters and the ONF, some 150 volunteers from the Defense of Forests Against Fires in Aquitaine (DFCI) are at work in this same sector and coordinate the action of foresters. Bloodletting that “tear” the heart of its president Bruno Lafon. “But you have to know how to sacrifice to save the rest”.

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