1,200 firefighters have been deployed to counter the wildfire in Southern France

Thousands of people have been moved to safety as firefighters tackle a wildfire near the French Riviera.

One person was found dead in the southern Var region as authorities battled to contain France’s worst summer wildfire.

Local authorities have evacuated around 7,000 people from their homes and campsites due to high temperatures and strong winds. 

Among them were 1,300 people staying at a campsite in the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas down the coast from Saint-Tropez.

“We started smelling the smoke around 7:00 pm, then we saw the flames on the hill,” said Cindy Thinesse, who fled a campsite near Cavalaire on Monday evening. 

“We hesitated, but when we saw that, we decided to leave,” she told AFP.

People are posting videos of the fire as well.

Many have been transported to municipal buildings and schools, according to the Var prefecture. 

The wildfire covered 7,000 hectares, and a local official says that 22 people were injured.

Some 1,200 firefighters were deployed, using high-pressure hoses and water-bombing planes and helicopters to control the flames.

Five firefighters also suffered minor injuries.

“The coming hours will be absolutely decisive” for the firefighting effort, President Emmanuel Macron said during a visit to first responders Tuesday evening.

While Macron added that “the battle is ongoing and the fire has not yet been contained, stabilized,” he said that the firefighters’ courage had managed to “avoid the worst” with no casualties so far.

The French fire is believed to have started near a motorway stop some 30 kilometers (18 miles) northwest of Saint-Tropez.

Mayor of La Garde-Freinet village Thomas Dombry said, “We’ve never seen it spread with such speed, it was three or four times the usual.”

The blaze has scorched a region known for its forests, vineyards, and fauna since it broke out in the Plaine des Maure’s nature reserve on Monday evening.

“Half of the Plain des Maures nature reserve has been devastated,” Concha Agero, deputy director of the French Office of Biodiversity, said.

Large blazes have already ravaged parts of Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco this year.

The Mediterranean basin has long faced seasonal wildfires linked to its dry and hot weather in the summer, but climate scientists warn they will become increasingly common because of man-made global warming.


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