Cigarette butt ‘likely’ cause of fire in southwest France

Cigarette butt 'likely' cause of fire in southwest France that cut electricity to Morocco
2 min read
26 July, 2021
The fire damaged 2,100 acres of forest and caused power “blackouts” in several countries, according to reports on Sunday.
The fire damaged 850 hectares of vegetation in the Alaric mountain [Getty]

A cigarette butt tossed out of a car is the likely cause of a fire in southwest France that damaged thousands of acres of forest and cut off electricity to homes in SpainPortugal and Morocco

The fire began at lunchtime on Saturday in the central reservation of a major road between Carcassonne and Narbonne in France. 

Eight hundred firefighters were still trying to put out the flames on Sunday, which devastated 2,100 acres of forest, according to a report in The Times. 

Firefighter Colonel Jean-Luc Baccari said that "everyone can guess pretty easily what the probable origin was. It was sadly very likely that it was caused by a cigarette butt thrown [from a car]". 

He added that the vegetation was dry so a "simple cigarette butt...could create such a disaster. It's a safe bet that this type of carelessness is the cause of these roadside fires". 

Interconnected electricity systems between France and Spain were disconnected because of the incident, causing partial "blackouts" in several countries. 

Spain temporarily lost power equivalent to two nuclear power stations with large areas, including Madrid, experiencing power cuts for about an hour, according to reports. 

The country also had to switch off its connection with Morocco. 

In Portugal, there were power cuts of more than 30 minutes across the country. Most of them took place around 4pm on 24 July, reported The Portugal News. 

In a statement published on Saturday, Portuguese energy company Redes Energeticas Nacionais stated that "the Iberian electricity system is already interconnected to the European system, and the situation is on the way to full normalisation".