Thousands evacuated as new wildfires hit south of France

Thousands evacuated as new wildfires hit south of France
By Alasdair Sandford
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Residents and campers were forced to sleep on beaches near St Tropez seeking refuge from another fire whipped up by strong winds.


New wildfires have been breaking out in southern France, posing threats to residents and holidaymakers and burning forest and scrubland.

Some 10,000 people including 3,000 campers were evacuated overnight as a fire swept across a stretch of the Riviera.

Amid strong winds and sweltering temperatures, the French Riviera coast has been in the grip of fierce wildfires for days. The French island of Corsica has also been badly hit.

More than 500 firefighters were called in as flames, whipped up by strong winds, threatened residential areas around Cap Benat, on a peninsula west of St Tropez.

The authorities moved people out of their homes and campsites, forcing them to take refuge on beaches where they spent the night.

Hundreds of hectares of land have been destroyed and the situation is being described as ‘critical’.

Ten thousand flee raging wildfires in southern France

— The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) July 26, 2017

There was better news further along the coast, as emergency teams said another fire near Ramatuelle was no longer advancing.

With an area the equivalent of nearly 3,000 football pitches going up in smoke in recent days, France has asked for help from the European Union. The Interior Minister Gerard Collomb also announced that six new water-dropping planes had been ordered.

Thousands of firefighters have been battling blazes across Europe over the past week.

In Portugal, forest fires have ravaged areas in the Castelo Branco and Santarem provinces, forcing at least 10 villages to be evacuated.

Authorities say more than 75,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed by fires this year alone.

In June, 64 people were killed in Portugal after their vehicles were engulfed by flames in a hilly region some 200 km northeast of Lisbon.

In Italy meanwhile, a major industrial fire filled the skies above Rome with smoke and caused traffic congestion. And arsonists are suspected to be responsible for the second blaze in two weeks at the city’s Castel Fusano pine wood centre.

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