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The situation was “catastrophic” – 3000 vacationers were saved

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A major fire has broken out in Saint-Andre, near Argeles-sur-Mer in southwestern France. © dpa

Wildfires are spreading in southern France. Thousands of holidaymakers have been evacuated and hundreds of firefighters are on the job.

SAINT-ANDRE – A devastating forest fire is raging in southern France. On Monday (August 14), around 3,000 holidaymakers were evacuated from several campsites due to the fire. Heat, drought and strong winds cause trees and undergrowth to catch fire. The Pyrénées-Orientales department on the border with Spain is affected. Unlike the devastating fires in Hawaii, there have been no casualties so far in France. Wind makes the extinguishing task difficult.

Fires in southern France: 3,000 tourists evacuated from campsites

In southern France, dozens of firefighters are battling the blaze. In the Pyrénées-Orientales department, numerous trees and bushes were burned by the fire. Interior Minister Gerald Dorman announced on Monday evening that there had been a major outbreak of violence. He urged residents and vacationers to be extra cautious. The fire brigade was deployed with 13 aircraft, 3 helicopters and more than 500 firefighters. Records of the fire were shared on social networking sites like Twitter.

The fire broke out in the afternoon between Saint-André and the well-known seaside resort of Argelès-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean. The fire broke out west of the town of Perpignan, not far from the Spanish border. There are no large forest areas in the district. As Environment Minister Christophe Bechu announced on Monday evening, the fight against the flames continues. So far, four camps have been evacuated. Officials expected many more to be brought to safety. Drought and strong winds have increased the risk of fire spreading.

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Forest fires in southern France: “situation catastrophic”

480 hectares of natural areas have already caught fire, as prefect Roderick Furci said on Monday evening. The fire is still not under control, but the situation is beginning to improve. The hope is to confine the flames to an area that does not threaten residential buildings. A river channel can act as a natural barrier to fire. Winds are driving the flames from Argelès-sur-Mer at this time. Fire fighting continued throughout the night.

“It’s a catastrophic situation,” Saint-André mayor Samuel Molly told France Bleu. “We’re facing fires like we’ve never seen before,” he said. “Our community is badly affected and there is a lot of damage.” Residential houses and a supermarket were evacuated. A gymnasium and a large multi-purpose hall were opened to accommodate the evacuees. Several roads were closed to traffic and electricity was temporarily cut in Argelès-sur-Mer, according to a local radio station. The Pyrénées-Orientales department has been hit harder than any other French region by drought and drought.

In late July, fires broke out on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu. A large number of holidaymakers had to be brought to safety. Many locals have lost their livelihoods. (vk/dpa/afp)

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