It quickly spread to the Mayons region, the southwestern end of the new appellation of the terroir of Notre Dame des Anges with the Côtes de Provence AOC.
The blaze, which continued overnight as firefighting planes extinguished the flames, was made worse by the previous four days of extreme heat, after a long, dry and particularly strong summer Mistral the winds.
The fire spread rapidly, around four km / h, eastward along the northern slopes of the Massif des Maures and Plaine des Maures nature reserve, then moved south to in the villages of La Garde-Freinet and Grimaud, before turning off towards Cogolin and St. Tropézienne. On Tuesday August 17, 5,000 ha had been consumed by the flames.
Three of the four wineries of the MDCV group – Château des Bertrands, Ultimate Provence and Château St Roux – were evacuated early on the 17th. The winemaker Alexis Cornu could not confirm the extent of the damage to the vineyard or to the cellar.
Alain Guichet, director of the Torpez cooperative, St Tropez, commented late on the 17th that the vines were then intact, but his new cellar in the town of St Tropez was covered with a fine dust of ash and the air was full. of smoke.
Jeany Cronk’s vineyard and cellar, Domaine Mirabeau, was evacuated on Wednesday August 18, and it was only this morning that she saw the extent of the damage. Cronk posted two images (below) on Instagram, writing; “We are very lucky to have this sight of our battered and charred farmhouse. It is about 5 fire trucks and our farmer Anthony who refused to let the houses and animals go towards a devastating wall of fire coming towards them.
“The remains of the smoking outbuildings tell their story of how violent and close it was. The vines are particularly affected and there will probably be no harvest time for those who have done it, ”she wrote.
Although fires are common in the south of France, they are generally smaller and quickly brought under control. The last major fires took place in 2003, 1979 and 1950.
Eric Pastorino, president of CIVP and winemaker in Gonfaron, said that following the 2003 fires, producers have built a strong case for firebreaks and vegetation management to prevent further outbreaks. However, opposition from environmentalists, anxious to protect the natural park and in particular the endangered Hermann’s tortoise, meant that no firebreak was finally put in place.
Cronk revealed that she was not allowed to cut into the surrounding forest to create a firebreak to protect her property as it is part of the nature reserve.
The famous garrigue in the south of France is made up of undergrowth and highly flammable resinous trees. This was previously controlled by grazing sheep and goats.
With many estates evacuated at the western end of the Massif des Maures, north of St Tropez, it is currently difficult to assess the extent of the damage to the vineyard, with partially damaged communication routes and closed roads.
On the 18th, the wind began to change direction, pushing the fire north towards Le Cannet, allowing the staff of the classified growth estate of Château St Maur, in Cogolin, to hope for an imminent return to the estate.
Some winegrowers still hope to start the harvest at the beginning of September, thanks to the minimal skin contact required for the production of rosé, thus reducing the effects of the smoky taste.
To date (Thursday August 19), the Var department has reported that the fire has now slowed, with 7,100 ha already ravaged, exceeding the damage caused in 2003. Two deaths and 27 injuries from smoke inhalation have been reported and the risk of a resurgence is still high.
Firefighters have also been fighting for several days against fires south of Narbonne in the Aude and Beaumes-de-Venise, in Provence.