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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018
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'We are winning the fight': Fires that forced mass evacuations in France almost under control

“In such dry conditions, we really fear that fires could start again,” one firefighter said.

Beach goers watch as fires rage in Bormes-les-Mimosas, south-east France
Beach goers watch as fires rage in Bormes-les-Mimosas, south-east France
Image: Clemente Patrick/ABACA

HUGE FIRES THAT forced mass evacuations of residents and holidaymakers in southern France were “under control” early this morning, firefighters said, although they warned new blazes were still starting.

In the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, located near beaches popular with tourists on the Cote d’Azur, “the fire is not completely under control but we are winning the fight,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bernier, the civil security officer leading the emergency effort there.

“Things are going in the right direction but new fires are starting caused by gusts of wind,” he said.

Ten Thousand Flee Raging Wildfires - Bormes-les-Mimosas Smoke rising up from a forest by the beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas Source: Clemente Patrick/ABACA/PA Images

In the neighbouring Bouches-du-Rhone region, three major fires that have burned across thousands of square kilometres were also tamed or being dampened down today, firefighters told AFP.

Authorities were on high alert, however, fearing that new blazes could start in the hot, dry conditions, fanned by the strong Mistral wind.

“In such dry conditions, we really fear that fires could start again,” one firefighter said.

Around 10,000 holidaymakers and residents were forced to flee to the safety of public shelters overnight on Tuesday as flames swept towards campsites.

Some holidaymakers took refuge on beaches.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe visited an accommodation centre for evacuees in Bormes-les-Mimosas yesterday evening.

Over 6,000 firefighters, troops and civil security officials are involved in efforts to put out the flames, backed up by 19 planes that drop containers of water on the flaming trees and bushes.

Ten Thousand Flee Raging Wildfires - Bormes-les-Mimosas Firefighters try to extinguish a fire in Bormes-les-Mimosas. Source: ABACA/PA Images

More than 7,000 hectares of vegetation have been burned.

Forest fires also raged early today in Portugal, cutting off roads in the centre of the country and forcing thousands to flee just a month after deadly blazes left more than 60 people dead.

The biggest fire was in Serta, in the Castelo Branco region, where more than a quarter of the country’s firefighters were attempting to halt its progress.

© – AFP, 2017

Read: Dublin Fire Brigade is operating at reduced capacity due to unofficial overtime strikes over pay

Read: ‘It’s a disaster area. There’s nothing left’: Wildfires rage over south-east of France

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