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Summer wildfires hit France and Portugal

Summer wildfires hit France and Portugal
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A wildfire has destroyed nine square kilometres of vegetation in the south of France, threatening homes and forcing some areas to be evacuated.

It took hold close to oil refineries about 30 kilometres west of Marseille, and spread eastwards into woodland, fanned by strong winds.

The authorities believe the fire was started deliberately when a stolen 4×4 vehicle was set alight in an area not open to traffic. The car was later found burned out.

No-one was injured but around 2,000 tourists had to be moved from a campsite. Some were put up overnight in a nearby gym.

“We can’t go home because they say the fire is swirling around and it’s too dangerous. We’re going to the sea”, said a woman in a car.

“The flames are not far away, we must be careful because of the toxic smoke. The police told us not to stay here,” said another resident.

By morning the winds had calmed down. It was the first large fire in the south of France this summer.

In Portugal several fires erupted across the country. More than 200 firefighters battled against strong winds and high temperatures to contain a blaze in a natural park near Lisbon.

Again police believe arsonists may be to blame. The hot dry weather has put several areas on the highest wildfire alert, especially in the north and centre of the country.