On Monday the 5th of September the siren went off in Tuchan. It was long and drawn out and seemed to go on forever. The siren is to call the Pompiers of Tuchan to the fire station and usually it is just a short, sharp blast. But this time no – it just went on and on and on.
The day was particularly hot – 35 ° C and very windy with gusts of up to 50 miles an hour. The newspaper had published a high risk fire warning for the Corbieres as the garrigue scrubland is tinder dry after months and months without rain.
When we looked to the skies we saw a small cloud of orange smoke behind the Mont Tauch mountain behind our village. An hour later and the fire had reached the plain between Paziols and Tuchan and split into two. One fire was heading for Tuchan and the other for Paziols.
The photos were taken from our vineyard just behind our house.
We tried to check on our vineyards that were in the path of the fire but the roads were blocked off by hundreds of fire engines and police.
The fire was big but distant, the fire fighting planes had arrived and were dumping hundreds of litres on the flames so we went home to have dinner.
But oh my... when we returned a couple of hours later we were in for a shock....
A line of flames was advancing unrelentlessly along the flanks of the Mont Tauch mountain and the wind was blowing it back towards the village.
As night fell the planes could no longer fly so it was down to the pompiers on the ground to try and contain the fire. Over 300 firemen and women fought all night to prevent the fire doing more damage.
We stayed there looking at the fire just praying that it didn't get any closer. We had a plan that if the fire came over the next ridge we were going to evacuate down to the Station winery on the other side of the village.
Fortunately it never came to that but when we woke up the next morning the scenes of devastation where difficult to take in. It is best described by the following photos. Some of the pictures are taken in my vineyards but we were very lucky. Only a small percentage of our vines were affected.