Fires rage over tinder-dry southern France

8th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 7 (AFP) - Two new fires were spreading in southeastern France on Sunday, while a blaze that began earlier near the south-central city of Aix-en-Provence was in check but not yet under control, firefighting officials said.

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 7 (AFP) - Two new fires were spreading in southeastern France on Sunday, while a blaze that began earlier near the south-central city of Aix-en-Provence was in check but not yet under control, firefighting officials said.

The blazes came as the firefighting services brought into action a new type of water-dropping plane, but the main fleet of 10 such aircraft remains grounded pending investigation of a fatal accident over the island of Corsica on Monday.

Rescue services said the two new blazes were close to the towns of Hyeres, near the Mediterranean coast in the Var region, and Manosque, further to the north in the foothills of the French Alps.

The fire near Manosque sparked the evacuation of a campsite, while the Hyeres blaze was getting close to the city's outskirts, firefighters said.

A large fire which began on Saturday near Aix-en-Provence, affecting some 500 hectares (1,200 acres) of land containing scattered homes and leading to the evacuation of some 100 people, was meanwhile being held in check, but "it could be reawakened at any time" if the wind rose, said a firefighting official.

That blaze left 10 firefighters suffering from burns or smoke inhalation. Fires are a feature of most summers in southern France, but concern has been heightened this year due to a severe drought that is affecting much of southern Europe, and hot, dry conditions.

Major fires are also blazing in Spain and Portugal.

French firefighters were using a new Dash-8 water dropping aircraft that was brought into action on Saturday, after the fleet of 10 Canadair planes was suspended.

The suspension followed Monday's crash of a Canadair during firefighting action over Corsica. Ludovic Piasentin, 49, and his co-pilot Jean-Louis de Benedict, 55, were killed.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, fire, Aix-en-Provence

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