WORLD NEWS

Raging Wildfires Prompt Evacuation Of 10,000 People Along French Riviera

Beaches and campsites at some of France's most popular tourism spots are deserted, as firefighters use water bombs to tackle the blazes.

Massive blazes have forced thousands of tourists and residents to flee the French Riviera.

A wildfire that began Tuesday night in the south of France spread through the hills of La Londe-les-Maures and across to La Croix-Valmer, near the resort town Saint-Tropez on the Mediterranean coast, according to authorities. 

Those at risk were moved just east of Marseilles while the fire went on to devastate the forests on the Mediterranean sea. Authorities said they had evacuated over 10,000 people by Wednesday.

“It’s a disaster area, there’s nothing left,” La Croix-Valmer’s Deputy Mayor, René Caradante, told Radio France International

People leave the beach with their belongings as they look at fire burning a forest behind them in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southea
People leave the beach with their belongings as they look at fire burning a forest behind them in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southeastern France, Wednesday.

Evacuations affected nearby campsites and beaches, where people watched the flames as they gathered their belongings.  

Firefighters were combating the flames with planes and helicopters, dropping water bombs across the area on Wednesday afternoon. The first waterbomber was an assistance plane from Genoa, Italy, Radio France International reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his support for the first responders and those forced from their homes, as France appealed to its European Union neighbors for help, according to the BBC.

A firefighting Canadair aircraft drops fire retardant over a blaze near Bormes-les-Mimosas.
A firefighting Canadair aircraft drops fire retardant over a blaze near Bormes-les-Mimosas.

Fires have also raged across the French tourist island of Corsica, as well as Portugal, Italy and Albania, the Guardian reports.

The latest blazes come one week after a wildfire in Portugal killed 62 people in Pedrógão Grande, 120 miles north of Lisbon.

People leave the beach with their belongings as the fire burns a forest behind them in Bormes-les-Mimosas.
People leave the beach with their belongings as the fire burns a forest behind them in Bormes-les-Mimosas.

Similar summer fires occurred in August last year across Europe’s popular Mediterranean destinations. The latest fires could threaten France’s tourism economy, which lost 1.5 million vacation-goers in 2016 after terrorist attacks rocked Paris and Nice. 

Increases in wildfires in the United States has prompted environmental studies which have linked the massive blazes with climate change. A Columbia University study from 2016 connected rising temperatures with drying forests, which has doubled the areas affected by these fires in the Western region. 

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