Fires ravage southern France

25th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, July 25 (AFP) - Some 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the southern French town of Vitrolles, near here, over the weekend as fire fighters battled fast-moving wildfires that destroyed 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) north of Marseille, officials and police said.

MARSEILLE, France, July 25 (AFP) - Some 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the southern French town of Vitrolles, near here, over the weekend as fire fighters battled fast-moving wildfires that destroyed 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) north of Marseille, officials and police said.

Evacuations of three neighbourhoods began around 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) Saturday and continued through the night.

Fire-fighting planes and water-dropping helicopters were called in to contain the first serious wildfires of the season, but strong winds continued to fan the flames. One fire fighter received serious third-degree burns fighting the flames at Rove, some 20 kilometres (more than 10 miles) northwest of Marseille, and another was also hurt.

The fires torched a fire truck in the village of Galline, which had been evacuated as a precaution, without causing injury.

"The fire hasn't been brought under control yet, and we've noticed it starting up again in several places," said a police officer.

Another serious fire broke out at Velaux, also north of Marseille, threatening Vitrolles where the evacuations took place forcing the closure of a portion of the A7 motorway. Some 1,500 fire fighters were battling in the area and reinforcements of another 1,500 were sent in from other French regions.

The fire swept 10 kilometres (six miles) over four hours, said fire fighters, and an estimated 1,000 hectares had been burnt.

Despite the fire fighters' efforts, the flames had claimed three houses and several vacation cottages.

Earlier Saturday 160 fire fighters backed up by more than 40 vehicles managed to bring under control a fire in Carry-le Route, a beach resort just northwest of this southern French port city.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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