It has been dry in Provence, so dry that in 18 municipalities in the Alpes-Maritimes department there is now an irrigation ban for the month of August. Last weekend there was also a heat wave that lasted a few days, during that weekend we were up in the mountains 50 – 60 km north of Nice, it was a full 39 ℃ while closer to the coast it was “only” 35 ℃.
Unfortunately, this drought and heat and at times strong wind has led to a large fire, that started on Monday August 16, in a large area in the Var department just northwest of Saint-Tropez, the fire in the area is the largest since 2003. Right now, as much as 7 100 hectares have been burned and the fire is being fought by 1 100 brave firefighters, 250 fire trucks, three firefighting aircrafts and two helicopters. In the picture below you can see how a firefighting aircraft fills the water tanks not far from people bathing in the Saint Tropez Bay.
The situation today on Friday is better and the fire has been limited but the fire is still not under control and more unfavourable weather is expected. The probable cause of the fire is that a careless person threw a cigarette butt at the Sigues rest area along the A57 motorway between Le Luc and Toulon!!
Usually, vineyards act as a delimiter for forest fires and that only some of the outermost rows are burned down, but the smoke and all the ash can affect the wine negatively now just before the impending harvest. Time will tell how extensive the damage has been to the vines and the wines, so far, several vineyards have had to be evacuated, e.g., three ones that are part of Mark Dixon’s (see page 22 in “The Wines of Provence – Tricolour”) wine empire. Learn more about how the vineyards have been affected in Elizabeth Gabay’s article on FB.
Sources: Nice Matin and Elizabeth Gabay’s article in Decanter 2021-08-19.