Firefighters, aircraft fight blaze near France's Mediterranean coast

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PARIS (Reuters) - Airborne French firefighters and hundreds of emergency crew managed to bring a wildfire near the Mediterranean coast under control on Friday, although it will take days to extinguish the blaze, local authorities said.

Over 1,000 firefighters tackled the blaze in the Gard department, which has devastated more than 600 hectares (1,480 acres) and forced the evacuation of some residents.

"Right now the situation is improving. The fire has been contained. We must remain vigilant," the Gard department prefect Marie-Francoise Lecaillon told BFM television on Friday evening.

Eighteen firefighters have been hurt tackling the fire but there were no victims in the general population, she said.

It would take several more days to extinguish the blaze, a fire brigade spokesman said.

Public access to forests in the Gard was prohibited until Monday.

The location of the fire is just over 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Mediterranean coast, where a mix of high temperatures, tinder-box conditions and strong winds is forecast in the coming days.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Richard Lough, John Stonestreet and Barbara Lewis)

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