Fire in the Vieux Port at Marseille! An encounter with fire and an opportunity to reacquaint with the Old Port, thanks to the 2013 European City of Culture. Numerous displays, thousands of fire sources and yes, it did remind us of fire, the element, that most of us don’t usually encounter in daily life. The heat from the fire, the enticing but dangerous play of the flames and the smell of the smoke. Lots of circles (think “ring of fire”), big coal spherical braziers suspended on frames above the Canebière and radiating massive heat, and a spectacular tunnel of fire formed of hoops, each featuring a number of fire sources. There were some acrobats; mime artists and musicians but mostly the public were the performers.
The risk assessment must have been formidable, both the fire risk from more than 4000 open flames with no particular separation from the public, also for personal security, as the street lights were switched off. There were plenty of marins-pompiers (firemen) in attendance plus there was a cordon of police around the whole display area; people joined in the spirit of the encounter and we didn’t see any incidents and none were reported in the press. So Marseille pulled it off, however it was cleared.
Compare with Burning the Clocks in Brighton, no open flames at all!