Thursday, September 23, 2021

Thousands flee to safety from forest fires in southern France

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Thousands of residents and tourists have fled to safety as forest fires in southern France continue to spread.

The fires are not yet under control and around 900 firefighters are fighting them, the prefecture in Toulon announced on Tuesday morning.

They are being supported by 10 firefighting aircraft and three helicopters.

Many roads in the hinterland of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez were closed. About 5,000 hectares of land had already burned.

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Twelve campsites in the region had been evacuated as a precaution, as well as many residents.

No one could return to their accommodation yet, the prefecture stressed.

Nineteen people suffered smoke inhalation and three others were slightly injured, the broadcaster France Bleu reported, referring to a preliminary assessment by the prefect.

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Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin planned to visit the affected region on Tuesday.

The fires were preceded by a heatwave and severe drought and fuelled by strong winds.

According to the local fire brigade, the blaze has spread over a distance of 22 kilometres in the region since it broke out.

In July 2017, no fewer than 10,000 people, including at least 3,000 holidaymakers, were evacuated overnight after a new wildfire broke out in southern France, which was already battling massive blazes, authorities said.

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The fire was also blazing in northern Corsica.

The fire broke out a day after France asked for Europe’s help to tackle the flames already raging in several spots on the tinder-dry south, including near the popular resort of Saint-Tropez.

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dpa/NAN

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