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France wildfire: Two dead as the fight to control a blaze near Saint-Tropez goes on

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By Euronews  with AFP
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In this photo provided by the fire brigade of the Var region, a fireman battles with a fire near Toulon, Aug. 17, 2021.
In this photo provided by the fire brigade of the Var region, a fireman battles with a fire near Toulon, Aug. 17, 2021.   -   Copyright  SDIS 83 via AP

Two people have been found dead as firefighters continue to tackle a raging wildfire in southern France.

Thousands of people have been evacuated in the coastal Var department, around the villages of Grimaud and La Môle near Saint Tropez.

Twelve campsites were also evacuated, the regional Prefecture said on Twitter.

The fire broke out on Monday at the Sigues motorway service area, about 100km northeast of Toulon.

By Wednesday, it had travelled 22 kilometres, burning 5,000 hectares of forests and damaging around 100 houses.

Authorities say at least one of the victims is male, and the Draguignan public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation.

At least 24 people -- including five firefighters -- have also been slightly injured, most suffering from smoke inhalation.

"[There is] some hope that during the night things will calm down but we have no certainty," said prefect Evence Richard during a press conference.

Some 1,200 firefighters are mobilised on the third day of the fire, accompanied by 120 gendarmes sent in to secure the area.

Four fire-fighting planes, a helicopter and two Dash aircraft, which drop fire retardant, were also deployed on Tuesday to assist the operation.

"The fire has not progressed but that does not mean it is under control", warned Franck Graciano, communications officer for the Var fire brigade.

The Var is among just two departments under yellow warning on Tuesday morning because of heatwave conditions.

Several roads have been closed with the authorities urging people to not impede access for emergency services to take pictures.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who came to support the rescue efforts on Tuesday, said that "the next few hours" would be "absolutely decisive" in tackling the fire.

Many Mediterranean countries have been hit by raging fires this summer which were fuelled by scorching temperatures, including Greece, Italy, Algeria, Spain, Turkey and Morocco,

More than 100,000 hectares were scorched in Greece in what Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described as the "worst ecological disaster" in decades.