By Nicolas Gosselin
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“Wow, there are a lot of people! There has to be fire for there to be people here, ”exclaims a regular ironically as he enters this Tuesday noon. At the Little Templea bar-restaurant located in the Temple (Gironde), a small town of some 500 inhabitants.
It must be said that since the day before and the beginning of thegiant fire of Saumosi.e. on Monday September 12, 2022, the firefighters took over the disused barracks located 50 meters from the bistro to set up their command post there, from which the staff is looking for the best strategy to bring this monster of flames to surrender.
At the Petit Temple, this Tuesday, September 13, it is also the commotion. Philippe Parriaud, the boss of the place, has been active behind the zinc since 7:30 am. “We almost only have journalists this morning,” he laughs. Everyone comes here to recharge their smartphone, laptop or camera batteries before the next press briefing by firefighters or state representatives. And have a coffee, while waiting, or even more if a hypoglycemic attack occurs.
Jacky, 86, almost fell out of his C15 when he saw all these new faces in his bar this Tuesday morning. Luckily he has his cane! For the flames, on the other hand, it takes more to impress him. “I was born there,” he proclaims proudly. No, I wasn’t scared. I knew the fires of Cestas in 1949 (which had destroyed 52,000 hectares of forest and caused 82 deaths) and Porge in 1989 (which had destroyed 3,500 hectares). It was worse ! »
“We were in the front row”
Philippe, originally from Burgundy, waited for him to celebrate his 60th birthday to experience his first time. “With my wife, we had never experienced that,” he says. We live above the trade and last night (note: Monday), we had a ringside seat. Frankly, we were scared. With the perspective, we thought that the fire was just behind the curtain of trees… In fact, it was more than two kilometers away. »
This Tuesday morning, the shopkeeper with contagious good humor hesitated to open. Eventually he did and he did well. In addition to its usual clientele, a ballet of firefighters, DFCI or NFB agents and journalists marched all day in its bar. “Coffees are free for firefighters,” he repeats over and over again, to remind us that he raised the curtain more to help than to do business. Seeing him bend over backwards without creasing his smile, we would not have imagined the opposite.
As the shot approaches, the bistro fills up. More than usual, one imagines. An exceptional event, exceptional crowds. “We have a good clientele of truckers, denies the boss. We are on the road of those who transport the wood. They park at the old barracks and come to have their breakfast or lunch here. »
Caramelized pork ribs and charred forest
Hervé is one of those regulars. He came to lunch with Philippe and his wife Patricia, this Tuesday noon. This agricultural contractor is currently harvesting sunflowers in Blagon, a locality located near the Temple. “Monday afternoon, from the combine harvester, we could see the big smoke. But as the fire does not threaten the plots where we work, we resumed harvesting on Tuesday, ”says the 52-year-old Charente entrepreneur, who has worked for several weeks in Gironde.
Moreover, Philippe insists that the surroundings of the Temple should not be considered as a land devastated by the flames but as a nourishing land. He recalls that there are not only pines as far as the eye can see but that large agro-industrial companies cultivate hectares of corn or carrots here.
But at the time of the shot, it is a shortage of caramelized pork ribs and chicken with cream that rushes him into the kitchen where his wife is busy, while he holds the counter. At 1 p.m., there is already no more dish of the day! The fridge emptied quickly. Only charcuterie or cheese plates remain.
The boss had not expected that the smoke from the fire would bring all these journalists and other unusual customers to his establishment, looking for a place to eat.
They were easy to recognize. “Are you taking the card?” they asked almost every time as soon as one of them entered the bar. “You know, modernity has reached the Temple,” replied the boss mischievously. The fire stopped at its doors.
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