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Firefighters Struggle to Extinguish Fires Raging in Southern France | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Firefighters work to put out a fire in Biguglia, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. (AFP)

Raging fires in southern France have firefighters scrambling to control them before they reach homes on the island of Corsica, emergency services said.

Hundreds of firefighters were trying to extinguish the blaze spreading across 900 hectares of forest as unusually hot and dry weather has hit much of France..

Residents were evacuated from homes at the edge of the town of Biguglia, on Corsica’s northeastern coast.

“The fire is very fierce and heading to urban areas of Biguglia,” lieutenant-colonel Michel Bernier, of France’s civil defense forces, told AFP.

The blaze engulfed a sawmill and burned 10 vehicles.

“We are awaiting reinforcements,” said regional deputy fire chief Jean-Jacques Peraldi. Around 160 people were battling the blaze aided by more than a dozen fire engines.

Local official Gerard Gavory said that three firefighting planes were also involved, and “have been surveying the area to make sure no homes are affected.”

Another fire on the south of the island, which destroyed 110 hectares around the town of Aleria, was brought under control on Monday, Bernier said.

Elsewhere in France, a fire raged in the forests around Luberon in the Vaucluse region, covering 800 hectares by late Monday. Firefighters told AFP they had been unable to keep the flames under control.

Around 100 homes in the village of Mirabeau and a neighboring hamlet had to be evacuated, according to officials. Up to 500 firefighters were expected on the scene.

In the nearby Var region, another fire burned over 200 hectares at Gigaro, close to the Mediterranean resort of Saint-Tropez.

Another blaze in Carros, north of Nice, burned a house, three vehicles and a warehouse and led to some homes being evacuated, according to regional authorities.

More than 270 firefighters were on the scene.

Jean-Gabriel Delacroy of the Alpes-Maritime regional administration said Tuesday that the fire near Nice is “under control” but not yet over after breaking out Monday night.

Speaking on broadcaster Francetvinfo, Delacroy said three firefighters were lightly injured in the blaze, which consumed 120 hectares (about 300 acres). No homes have been hurt so far, he said.

Similar infernos had torn through the Portuguese countryside, but emergency services said they are gradually bringing under control the spate of wildfires that erupted after temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

Authorities stated that cooler temperatures Tuesday are allowing firefighters to get the upper hand over the blazes, which scorch Portuguese woodland every summer.

The Civil Protection Agency said almost 1,700 firefighters are tackling eight large countryside blazes with the help of 20 water-dropping aircraft. It said seven other wildfires are being brought under control and 19 are almost out.

Most of the wildfires are in northern Portugal, where thick forests of pine and eucalyptus trees and steep ridges make firefighting especially hard.

Several thousand firefighters are on duty every summer.