Whatever your opinion on global warming, the fact we are having stranger, more extreme weather than ever before is not in doubt. France, parts of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey have all experienced some strange weather over the past few years, including wildfires.
It’s that last that we’re discussing today. Wildfires. There are areas of France more susceptible to others but with the way the world is going, any area of the country could be subject to them.
If you run a gite in France and want to protect it as much as possible from wildfires, these tips should help.
Keep fuel safe
If you store firewood, keep it away from the gite. The same for propane tanks. You’ll need the connected tank to be by the property but any spares should be kept as far away as possible while remaining convenient.
The French fire service recommends a minimum distance of 10 metres between a fuel store and a property.
Keep the property well maintained
Blocked gutters provide fuel for flying embers. Dead vegetation is just waiting for a spark. Dry vegetation throughout a garden is viable fuel for the fire. All things that can be avoided with some maintenance.
Keep gutters clear so there’s not fuel for embers. Keep flower beds and gardens clear of dead vegetation and make sure any compost heaps or piles of leaves are kept damp during summer.
Regularly watering the garden can also help. Use a water collection system and water butt to avoid using clean water and keep as much of the property damp as possible.
Look at the trees
If you have trees around your gite, make sure there is a gap between the tree line and your property. Also check the types of trees you have. Pine and juniper trees are known for their sap, which is a lot of fuel for the fire.
Clean an open area if practical and ensure any trees known for sap are protected or moved away from the gite wherever possible.
Keep the lawn mowed
Long dry grass burns very well indeed. Shorter grass doesn’t burn anywhere near as well so keep lawns short. Lawn care is usually part of running a gite, especially during peak season but it’s still worth mentioning.
Mow the lawn as short as practicable and clear away the cut grass once done. Keep the lawn watered and the soil as damp as possible by watering overnight. This will help prevent it catching but also keep it looking good for guests.
Wildfires are a genuine hazard this year and likely for future years too. Wherever you are in France, your property may be at risk. Monitor the weather, monitor the local situation and make sure you always know what’s going on.
It’s the only way to protect your investment.