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With 1,000 firefighters battling horrific wildfires, French fire chief says he’s “waiting for God”


Bumble Dee | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 08/19/22

The continued wildfires in France are having a devastating effect on the firefighters bravely working endless hours.

This summer’s scorching weather has caused terrible drought, wildfires, and loss of life in Europe. Notably, France has suffered from prolonged high temperatures that have resulted in wildfires causing major damage in certain parts of the country.

A recent report on the BBC detailed some of the extent of the “megafire” near Bordeaux in the Gironde region, and the effects it was having on some of the firefighters, who were setting firebreaks in a bid to control the fire. (By deliberately setting fire to certain strips of forest, firefighters keep the flames from going any further once they reach the already charred area.)

For 53-year-old firefighter Hervé Trentin, the impact has been particularly devastating, as he sets fire to his beloved forest, a place he has known and loved since childhood. He shared with the BBC that he’d already cried twice on the day he’d been interviewed. Having fought fires for 34 years, Trentin explained how this particular fire was affecting him:

“It’s hard for me to think that I will not see this forest again like it was. I’m 53 years old, and this forest will need more than 30 years to recover.” He added, “I wonder what will happen. I don’t want to say our future looks like what we are living this summer, but … you know.”

A European joint effort

The most recent fire is the second huge blaze in a month, with the July megafire burning 14,000 hectares in the same place as this month’s fire. This phenomenon is called a “zombie-fire,” as the ground is still hot and dry from the first fire, and restarts when conditions don’t improve.

At the moment, there are 1,000 firefighters from France battling the raging fires, and other firefighters from Europe have come along to offer their help. Many of these emergency workers haven’t had to contend with anything like these fires in their careers, and have been injured during their efforts to control the blazes.

We may often think of the physical demands of being a firefighter, but Trentin’s colleague Christophe Dubois also gave a little insight into how firefighters are feeling:

“If you don’t have a passion for this work you cannot do it. We may seem like tough guys but we are sensitive. We have a passion for the forest, for nature. It is painful to watch it burning, and painful to burn the pines ourselves to save it.”

As the fire continues to wreak havoc, burning thousands more hectares, Jean-Pierre Le Cunff, a tactical fire chief for the Haute-Garonne region with two sons in the service, shared: “I have been a firefighter for 40 years and I had never seen such a fire. We are waiting for rain, for snow, for winter, for God.

We pray that God works wonders and help these firefighters bring an end to these wildfires, and supports them in their work. You may wish to look at the patron saints in the article below to seek their intercession.

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