Friday 20 July 2018

Holidaymakers caught up in chaos as wildfires torch the South of France

Tourists stand on the beach and watch as smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Tourists stand on the beach and watch as smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists relax on the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists swim in the waters off the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Tourists stand on the beach and watch as smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A reacts near charred debris of vehicles that were destroyed by fire in a parking lot for camping cars in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017, after firefighters evacuated thousands of campers and local residents when a wildfire broke out on France's tourist-thronged Riviera coast overnight. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A firefighting plane drops fire retardant over a forest in the outskirts of La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A plume of smoke from burning fires fills the sky in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists relax on the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Jack Hardy and Thomas Hornall

Holidaymakers and celebrities are among thousands caught up in chaos after wildfires tore through the French Riviera.

Dame Joan Collins was one of many forced to flee as the blaze grew ferocious on Tuesday night, tweeting it had been a "nightmare".

French authorities said swathes of the Var area of Provence had been evacuated, involving the displacement of some 10,000 people - including 3,000 campers.

Tourists were seen camped out on beaches overnight - while the glare of the morning sun was darkened by rising smoke, images posted to social media showed.

Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists swim in the waters off the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists swim in the waters off the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Best-selling novelist Robert Harris was also forced to leave where he was staying near Bormes-les-Mimosas and posted updates of the evacuation, which began at around 2am on Wednesday.

He commended the "brave" pompier emergency fire services.

Local emergency services said flames had engulfed some 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of land in southern France, where the population swells during summer because of popular tourist resorts.

This included a separate fire in northern Corsica.

Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists relax on the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Smoke fills the sky above a burning hillside as tourists relax on the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var department, France, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Hundreds of firefighters are battling to bring several blazes under control since they broke out on Monday, including the one which has scorched 800 hectares in Var.

The Sun's travel editor, Lisa Minot, was at the scene and said relief efforts were being affected by "very strong" winds, and that there had been "no news" from authorities.

A firefighting plane drops fire retardant over a forest in the outskirts of La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A firefighting plane drops fire retardant over a forest in the outskirts of La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Tourist Anna Tomlinson posted online that visitors had been "so,so, lucky" the fires did not "overwhelm" the campsite and local houses, adding the pompiers were "heroes".

Four tracker planes and a firefighting aircraft had formed part of the emergency response after the intensity of the fire grew at around 11pm on Tuesday, a statement from the Var prefecture said.

French authorities were forced to turn to the European Union to request help as the fires continued.

Press Association

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