Sunday, September 27

Thousands evacuated as forest fires rage in southern France


A man uses a garden hose to drench his house before being evacuated as a wild fire burns in the background, in La Couronne, near Marseille. — AFP photo

MARSEILLE: Around 2,700 people have been evacuated, some of them by boat, to escape forest fires that were raging Wednesday across a vast area near the southern French city of Marseille, officials said.

Some 1,800 firefighters are battling the blazes, which broke out on Tuesday afternoon, fanned by strong winds.

The fires have ravaged about 1,000 hectares of vegetation and are threatening residential areas and campsites near the coast, the fire service said.

No casualties have been reported, “but material damage has still to be evaluated,” it said.

The blazes are not yet under control, but lighter winds are expected later Wednesday.

Eight campsites near the towns of Martigues, where the fire erupted, and Sausset-les-Pins have been evacuated “as a preventative measure”, the fire service said.

Some of the tourists at the sites were taken by boat and are being looked after by local authorities.

A care home for the elderly was also evacuated.

A second blaze in the same region broke out near an industrial park, and raged across 120 hectares, damaging a house and several businesses. — AFP