France bat­tles rag­ing fires on Cote d’Azur

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Thou­sands of fire­fight­ers bat­tled for­est fires in large ar­eas of south­east France yes­ter­day, with one “ex­tremely vir­u­lent” in­ferno rag­ing near the jet­set re­sort of Saint-Tropez, emer­gency ser­vices said. The blazes have con­sumed 3,000 hectares of land along the Mediter­ranean coast, in the moun­tain­ous hin­ter­land and on the is­land of Cor­sica — at the height of the re­gion’s hol­i­day sea­son.

Over 2,000 fire­fight­ers and 19 air­craft, in­clud­ing 10 Canadair wa­ter bombers, have been mo­bi­lized to quench the flames. With strong winds and tin­der dry con­di­tions spell­ing dan­ger for a sec­ond day, the gov­ern­ment has asked its Euro­pean Union part­ners to send two ex­tra air tankers. A fire in La Croix-Valmer near Saint-Tropez, a fa­vorite re­sort with the rich and fa­mous, was still “ex­tremely vir­u­lent and dif­fi­cult to con­trol,” the re­gional head of se­cu­rity Stephane Bouil­lon told Europe 1 ra­dio yes­ter­day morn­ing.

The blaze had al­ready gut­ted 400 hectares of coastal for­est in an area dot­ted with homes, he said. In Cor­sica, scores of fire­fight­ers worked through the night to tamp down a wall of flames that threat­ened homes in the town of Biguglia in the north­east. The blaze, which con­sumed 1,500 hectares of for­est, en­gulfed a sawmill and burned sev­eral ve­hi­cles. “It’s the apoca­lypse!” a lo­cal res­i­dent told AFPTV.

By yes­ter­day morn­ing, the wind had abated and the sit­u­a­tion had been brought un­der con­trol. In the Luberon, an area of hill­top vil­lages and laven­der fields in Provence, fires con­sumed around 800 hectares around the vil­lage of Mirabeau and a neigh­bor­ing ham­let. Around 100 homes had to be evac­u­ated, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials, but yes­ter­day fire­fight­ers had man­aged to se­cure res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

An­other blaze in Car­ros, north of Nice, burned a house, three ve­hi­cles and a ware­house and led to some homes be­ing evac­u­ated, ac­cord­ing to re­gional au­thor­i­ties. Speak­ing to France Info ra­dio, Mayor Charles Sci­betta de­scribed wak­ing up to a “lu­nar land­scape” and said the in­hab­i­tants had had a lucky es­cape. “All of France is mo­bi­lized,” the head of the fire ser­vice in south­east France, Colonel Gre­gory Al­lione told France Info, adding that ex­tra fire­fight­ers had been drafted in from the north. South­east France is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an ex­cep­tion­ally hot, dry sum­mer that have made it es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to fires. In mid-July, a blaze be­lieved to have been ig­nited by a cig­a­rette butt tossed out of a car ripped through 800 hectares of land near Aix-enProvence.

—AFP

Peo­ple en­joy the beach as they look at a for­est fire in La Croix-Valmer, near Sain­tTropez.

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