French wildfire forces royals to relocate

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 28, 2017

The charred remains of burnt caravans at a warehouse in La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

Firefighters battled wind-whipped infernos along the French Riviera coast on Tuesday as the flames torched vegetation on hills overlooking glitzy Mediterranean resorts thronged by summer holidaymakers.

The statement said that some 10,000 people - about 3,000 of them campers - were evacuated from La Londe and nearby Bormes and La Lavandou.

The fire in the seaside town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas in the southern Var region calmed on Thursday because of a drop in the wind - but still marked the skyline with dramatic clouds of black smoke that were visible for miles.

A wildfire was burning uncontained in Bormes-les-Mimosas, about 10km from the family's estate.

In the meantime, evacuees are being housed in makeshift shelters.

One displaced French camper, Stephanie Reiny, who slept at the sailing club, was upbeat on learning that the firefighters were making progress.

There have been no reported casualties.

One of the blazes was thought to have been started by a bolt of lightning, but carelessly discarded cigarette butts are often blamed for setting tinderbox areas of the midsummer southern coast alight.

As helicopters and planes carrying water flew overhead, Bormes-les-Mimosas Mayor Francois Arizzi told reporters Thursday he felt "sadness and anger".

Arizzi also accused unknown "harmful" individuals of starting the fires, though did not explain why he thinks the blazes were human-caused.

Wildfires also continued to burn in Portugal, where nearly 2,000 firefighters were deployed at six major blazes on Thursday.

Portugal's Civil Protection Agency says firefighters have brought under control a major 5-day-old wildfire that blackened a wide area of pine and eucalyptus forest.

The worst-affected areas continued to be in central Portugal, especially a fire around Serta, 125 miles northeast of Lisbon, which was burning for a fifth day.

Other fires broke out Thursday, however, amid continuing hot and windy weather.

More than 70 percent of Portugal is enduring a severe drought.

At the same time, just over 2,000 firefighters are engaged in mopping-up operations and are on the lookout for re-ignitions.

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