Hundreds of firefighters battle wildfire in southern France

·2-min read
High temperatures have made conditions difficult for firefighters to contain the blaze  (EPA)
High temperatures have made conditions difficult for firefighters to contain the blaze (EPA)

Firefighters in France are attempting to contain a wildfire in the southern Var region that has forced the evacuation of thousands of locals and tourists.

A total of 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and a dozen campsites in the department since the fire started on Monday evening, 24 miles from the coastal town of Saint-Tropez.

At least 22 people have suffered smoke inhalation or minor injuries as a result of the flames, a top local government official said.

La Mole, a village near the French Riviera, is one of the worst-affected areas. Its mayor, Stephane Gady, confirmed that no lives had been lost, but added that 100 properties had been destroyed.

A combination of high temperatures and strong winds mean that firefighters are struggling to control the blaze.

The French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, will visit the area around Toulon on Tuesday. “I will go to Gonfaron tomorrow to monitor the situation of the huge forest fire which firefighters will try to contain throughout the night,” he tweeted on Monday.

Water planes are being used in an attempt to put out the fires from the air, while more than 900 firefighters and 120 police have descended on the region to help stop the blaze spreading, the local government said.

Meanwhile, local officials announced on Twitter that all areas of forest in the Var region were at “very severe” risk of fire.

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They also warned those who are living or staying in the area that they should “absolutely not” return to their homes in the region or places they have been staying.

Southern France is the latest area in the Mediterranean to face wildfires this summer as a heatwave gripped the region, with temperatures of up to 35C forecast.

Large fires have already destroyed forests and homes in Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Algeria and Morocco, with climate scientists warning that fires of this sort will become more and more common due to global warming.

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The French fire had burned through more than 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of forest by early on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Var regional administration.

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