Summer wildfires are once again blazing across southern Europe, forcing the evacuation of 12,000 people on France’s Mediterranean cost and devouring hectares of forests as far afield as Corsica, Portugal, Italy and Albania.
Authorities in the Côte d’Azur region decided to move people out of tents, campsites and holiday homes around the hilltop town of Bormes-les-Mimosas after a fire broke out in the surrounding forests on Tuesday.
Some of the 12,000 people displaced by the flames sheltered in gymnasiums, village halls and schools while others stayed on local beaches.
Karine Dolczewski, a mother of four from Pas-de-Calais who was on holiday with her family in the area, said they had been ordered to leave their holiday centre at about 10.30pm on Tuesday.
“The sky was all red, It was a huge blaze with enormous flames spreading everywhere.We left everything there except for the baby’s bottle and nappies,” Dolczewski said. After marching calmly in single file down to the beach, they were taken to the village hall in Bormes-les-Mimosas.
On Tuesday, more than 4,000 firefighters and troops backed by 19 water-bombers had already been mobilised to extinguish the flames.At least 12 firefighters have been injured and 15 police officers affected by smoke inhalation since the fires broke out on Monday, according to the authorities.With strong winds and dry brush creating a dangerous mix, the government asked its European partners to send two extra firefighting planes
A fire in nearby La Croix-Valmer was under control by Tuesday evening, according to the local fire chief, Philippe Gambe de Vergnes.The blaze had already consumed 400 hectares of coastal forest in an area dotted with homes.
A spokesman, Ardian Bita, said fires were blazing in five western and central districts, damaging 15 hectares (37 acres) of pastures, vineyards and dozens of olive trees.
Firefighters, military personnel and local authorities have been fighting about a dozen wildfires every day in Albania since the end of June. No injuries have yet been reported. Authorities have arrested several people accused of starting fires.
“Compared to a year ago we have increased public awareness and have also had better communication with the communities and local authorities,” said Bita.