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Thousands evacuated in southern France due to new wildfires

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By AFP  with Euronews
Firefighters have started "tactical fires" to prevent the flames from spreading.
Firefighters have started "tactical fires" to prevent the flames from spreading.   -   Copyright  VALENTINE CHAPUIS / AFP

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated in southern France after a wildfire was accidentally started by a tractor.

The blaze has ravaged at least 700 hectares of land in the region of Aveyron since it erupted on Monday, fanned by strong winds.

Thousands of residents and holidaymakers have been forced to flee homes and campsites, but no injuries have so far been reported.

The fire is believed to have started in the neighbouring region of Lozere before spreading westwards. 

Firefighters say they have lit "tactical fires" to burn vegetation and prevent the flames from advancing further.

Investigators believe that a metal piece of tractor machinery set fire to nearby land when it scraped against a hot road, creating sparks.

The farmer who was driving the tractor called the emergency services himself after trying to fight the flames with his own water tank.

Meanwhile, another wildfire in the Gironde region has destroyed sixteen houses, burned 6,000 hectares and forced the evacuation of almost 6,000 people.

More than 47,000 hectares of French land have already been burned by wildfires this year, while many parts of the country are enduring a historic drought.

Heatwave temperatures returned to southern France on Wednesday, with some areas expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius.

The French government has urged the population to continue their precautionary measures and avoid the outdoors during peak temperatures.

In total, 16 regions have been placed on orange heatwave watch, from the Loire-Atlantique to the Hautes-Pyrénées.

July 2022 was the second driest month ever recorded in France, after March 1961.