Les hommes du feu.

That’s the title of a movie that was released in France earlier this month, and it’s also who we saw this past weekend doing the coolest work. It means firemen (and yes, there were probably some firewomen out there too).

Driving to the train station from our weekend in Provence, under clear blue skies, we saw a bizarre looking cloud in the distance. As we got closer, we realized that it was an enormous plume of smoke. Turns out there was a giant forest fire just north of Aix-en-Provence. Suddenly, out of the smoke emerged 4 “Canadair” planes, the water bombadier planes employed by the French fire service.

Not my photo – I was so engrossed with watching the planes that I couldn’t tear my eyes away to get my phone. Credit to a photographer named Mikael Anisset.

The planes swooped over us and down into a large lake nearby, to fill their bladders with water. The precision involved with their water landing and their synchronized maneuvers was quite impressive. Apparently it took the firefighters 23 hours to control the fire and 500 hectares burned. On the train ride back to Paris we passed close enough to the fire to see the out of control flames. Truly a sight to behold.

Another reminder of how awesome our first responders are, in France and in the US! (And that climate change is creating conditions that enable a significant loss of forest, homes, and threaten the loss of life.)

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