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Wildfires For Members

MAP: How to check for wildfire alerts in France

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
MAP: How to check for wildfire alerts in France
Firefighters are at work after extinguishing a fire that broke out overnight and burnt 1,000 hectares near Cerbere on April 17, 2023. (Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP)

With forest fires becoming more common and more extensive due to hot, dry summers, the French government has launched a new alert system.

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Forest fires have become increasingly common in France and parts of southern Europe, so much so that the government launched a programme called Météo des fôrets - which gives real-time info about the risk of fires in your area.

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The service - which you can access here - assigns a risk level to each département, telling householders of the risk in their area, and explaining what preventative steps they can take.

It is updated daily, and gives a forecast for two days in advance.

Example of the map from 2023

The weather forecaster uses criteria including rain, humidity, air temperature, wind strength, dryness of the vegetation, local terrain and species of vegetation in order to assign a risk level - similar to the existing Indice forêt météo (Forest Weather Index, or FMI), which was developed in Canada in the late 1970s and estimates the possibility of a fire outbreak and its potential for spread.

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You can also sign up for text message alerts via the government FR-Alert system - this sends an SMS to your phone if there is a major incident such as a forest fire near your location. The system works via mobile phone location, so will work if you are on holiday.

Part of the goal of the Météo des fôrets maps is to help limit the number of people entering forests during periods of high-risk - in 2022 it was estimated that 90 percent of the forest fires were started by humans, most accidentally through discarded cigarettes or glass.

The summer of 2022 was a terrible year for wildfires across Europe, with France particularly badly hit. In total an area seven times the size of Paris burned and more than 19,000 wildfires were recorded.

Although forest fires in the south of France are not uncommon in summer, 2022 saw fires break out across the country in areas including Brittany and eastern France, in addition to the south.

Property owners are legally obliged to take wildfire precautions including clearing vegetation and pruning trees and plants. 

READ ALSO How to protect your French property from wildfires

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