Fire leads to evacuation of 1000s in southern France
Thousands of holidaymakers have been evacuated in southern France, where a raging fire threatened to sweep through several campsites.
Local authorities in the Pyrenees-Orientales region said that they evacuated some 3,000 French and other European holidaymakers from their campsites in Torreilles on Wednesday afternoon, fearing that the strong winds would spread the fire to where the tourists were staying.
The fire, ignited as a result of unknown causes, has already destroyed at least 22 bungalows and burned down some tents in the area, local official Helene Girardot said.
One retired holidaymaker said, “We saw smoke… The people from the campsite asked us to leave straight away and leave our cars behind us.”
No holidaymaker has yet reported to be injured in the incident, but one firefighter, traveling to the site, was killed as he lost control of his vehicle due to an engine fault. Three volunteer firefighters who were with him sustained serious injuries in the accident and were rushed to the hospital.
A further 17 firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation and two others were wounded when a gas canister belonging to a camper exploded as they were trying to contain the flames.
In a separate blaze, over 150 hectares of pine forest were burned in the vicinity of Mailhac and Bize- Minervois towns in the neighboring region of Aude. The fire caused no human casualties, nor did it inflict damage on nearby houses. Local authorities, however, were forces to evacuate over 220 people from the area as a precaution.