Firefighters quell areas of French Riviera wildfire

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Paris, July 27 (IANS) A voracious wildfire that has carbonised vast swathes of land in southeast France and forced the evacuation of 12,000 people has been partially brought under control but firefighters were on alert for fresh outbreaks of flames amid tinderbox conditions, officials said on Thursday.

One hotspot had been brought under control by the hundreds of firefighters tackling the inferno, but two other areas of this mountainous region were not yet secure enough to permit evacuees to return, said authorities from the Department of Var, where the wildfires were located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Efe news reported.

“Because of forest fire re-ignitions, it is not yet possible to return to the evacuated sites in Bormes,” Vars local administration tweeted, referring to one of the affected towns located between Toulon and St. Tropez, a luxurious celebrity playground setting on the French Riviera.

In a press release, Var officials said emergency responders had stabilised a fire that ravaged 500 hectares of countryside around the town of La Croix Valmer but blazes affecting a combined 3,300 hectares near Artigues, La Londe-les-Maures and Bormes remained a threat.

Thousands of firefighters were deployed to the region when the fires broke out on Monday and water-dropping planes conducted dozens of sorties over the area.

Around 12,000 people were forced to evacuate throughout the week as the flames encroached on local settlements and camping grounds. Among those affected were the hordes of tourists who descend on the popular vacation destination every year.

Emergency relief points were set up by the local council to help those displaced by the inferno. Var officials warned that “very severe” and “exceptional” forest fire risk alerts were in place throughout the department.

Eleven firefighters were slightly injured tackling the blaze, officials said, and an investigation had been launched to determine whether a criminal act was behind the outbreak of blaze.

–IANS

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