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Thousands evacuated from devastating wild fires in Marseille region of Southern France

A man uses a garden hose to drench his house before being evacuated as a wild fire burns in the background, in La Couronne, near Marseille, on August 4, 2020.
A man uses a garden hose to drench his house before being evacuated as a wild fire burns in the background, in La Couronne, near Marseille, on August 4, 2020. AFP - XAVIER LEOTY
2 min

Around 2,700 people have been evacuated from multiple towns in southern France's Marseille region, after fires fueled by strong Mediterranean winds ravaged 1,000 hectares of vegetation and left firefighters still battling to put out the blaze on Wednesday.

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Some 1,800 firefighters, backed by planes and helicopters, continued to battle the worst of the fires around the town of Martigues on Wednesday.

Eight campsites near Martigues, where the fire erupted, and the town of Sausset-les-Pins have been evacuated "as a preventative measure", the fire service said.

The fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon, sending out plumes of black smoke. It crossed eight kilometres in two hours, reportedly fanned by strong winds.

Evacuations

Around 2,700 people, mostly tourists and campers, were evacuated by boat to escape the flames that swept through residential areas and multiple campging rounds.

A nursing home for the elderly was also evacuated.

The cause of the fires is still unclear.

Eight civilians and 14 firefighters suffered minor injuries in the Martigues blaze and five others that erupted in the area on Tuesday.

The other fires were brought under control in the towns of Port-de-Bouc, Aubagne-Carnoux, Gignac-la-Nerthe and Fontvieille.

Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin rushed to the site overnight, and firefighting teams were sent in from other regions to help.

Part of a highway from Marseille to Martigues has been closed.

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