Firefighters battle French forest blazes
FIREFIGHTERS brought a wildfire that had spread over nine square kilometres of land in southern France under control yesterday, fire services said.
The blaze, which threatened homes and forced some areas of the region to be evacuated, started on Saturday close to oil refineries near l'Etang de Berre, about 30km west of the port city of Marseille, before spreading eastwards into arid woodlands.
Television pictures showed large areas of trees and vegetation ablaze, with the flames being fanned by strong winds. Planes were dropping water over the area.
"The fire is under control and is no longer spreading," said a spokesman for the local fire department.
Hundreds of firefighters were battling to put out the flames, which were still raging yesterday morning, but the strong winds had calmed down, emergency services said. About 2,000 tourists were moved from a campsite.
No one was injured, officials said, adding the fire was likely to have been sparked on purpose.
Wildfires, often started by arsonists, are frequent during the summer in southern France.