News World Fires force evacuation of 12,000 from French Riviera

Fires force evacuation of 12,000 from French Riviera

French riviera fires
The tourist haven of the French Riviera is under threat from forest fires. Photo: Getty
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More than 1000 firefighters battled wildfires that billowed smoke into the sky over France’s southern Cote d’Azur coast and forced the evacuation of 12,000 residents and holidaymakers.

Large swaths of Mediterranean forest have been left bare and blackened after three days of fires.

About 250 trailer homes, a hangar, an artists’ studio and several vehicles were burned in the blazes, but no one so far has been injured, according to the prefect of the Var region.

Residents and tourists were evacuated early Wednesday after a ferocious fire whipped by strong winds spread from La Londe-Les-Maures to around the picturesque hilltop town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas.

About 60 people were evacuated by boat from nearby Cap Benat.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was travelling to Bormes on Wednesday night to fly over the devastated region, and meet with firefighters and evacuees staying in gyms and other public spaces, while dozens spent Tuesday night on the nearby La Lavandou beach.

Further south of the French mainland, flames ate through 2000 hectares of forest on the northern end of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze in France.

Fires were also blazing across parts of bone-dry Portugal and Italy.

As thick black smoke billowed above the crests of hills, Colonel Eric Martin of the Var firefighting unit told BFM-TV that French crews were trying to contain the flames that had run through 1300 hectares around Bormes.

Four planes and a fire-fighting aircraft dropped water and retardants on the blazes.

The airport in Toulon, a city 30 kilometres from La Londe, was briefly closed on Wednesday, as well the Fort de Bregancon, which sits on a rock off the coast of Bormes.

The wildfires began raging along France’s Mediterranean coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations as flames reached a corner of Saint-Tropez.

Further east, another 400 firefighters were battling a blaze in Artigues that burned up to 1700 hectares of forest.

France asked the European Union for more firefighting planes and Italy provided one on Tuesday.