Fires force evacuation of 10,000 in French Riviera

Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures.

A violent fire took off in the dry Mediterranean forests around La Londe just before 11 pm local time the night before, and 540 firefighters were sent into the region, the top state official said in a statement.

About 3,000 campers were among the 10,000 evacuated from La Londe and the nearby Bormes-les-Mimosas and La Lavandou, according to the statement. La Londe is under 30 kilometers from the city of Toulon.

Four tracker planes and a fire-fighting aircraft were sent in. About 800 hectares of back-country forest had burned by morning.

Fires had begun raging along the coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations with flames reaching a corner of Saint-Tropez. Since Tuesday, firefighters have conducted about 100 operations, the prefecture said.

Farther east, reinforcements were sent in to battle a blaze in Artigues that burned up to 1,700 hectares of forested land.

Another fire was contained Tuesday evening in La Croix Valmer after burning down two villas, seriously injuring one firefighter and devouring about 500 hectares.

Farther south, flames ate through some 2,000 hectares of forest on the northern end of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze.

France’s Mediterranean coast is particularly vulnerable to fires, with its massive back-country forests — which are often dry in the summer — and Mistral winds blowing across the sea to fan flames.

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