Coming to the end of June the South of France was hit by a sudden record heatwave “canicule” with temperatures scoring to the late forty degrees!
The Rapid Relief Teams of Nimes and Ales were involved in a community “Hydrate Operation” supplying the public with fresh cold water in the city of Nimes.
RRT had time to just wrap up the Hydrate Operation to then rush to the aide of hot and hungry firefighters battling a bushfire that had broken out in the Gard.
Seven hundred firefighters attended to the wildfires in the Gard – in some areas the fires had closed sections of the motorway. Fifteen firefighters were hurt but no serious injuries were reported, although, in the neighbouring region of Vaucluse, a cyclist died after collapsing in the heat while riding in the mountains.
Firefighters managed to contain 90% of the wildfires that raged across 60 square kilometres in the northeastern Tarragona province, the Catalan government said, but two other wildfires in the central Toledo region continued to burn.
RRT supported the firefighting team over the next 48 hours providing them with over 1800 freshwater bottles and serving over 400 hot-burger meals, hot breakfast and other food.
France remains chastened by the memory of the 2003 heatwave, in which an estimated 15,000 people died. Not this time, said the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, who was visiting Carémeau hospital in Nîmes. “Unfortunately, it’s impossible to guarantee that no one will die, but we’ve put everything in place to ensure it’s the lowest number possible. Compared with 2003, we’re extremely well prepared – especially with respect to the elderly, especially those isolated at home.”