A major forest fire has been raging since Monday in the hinterland of the prestigious port of Saint-Tropez, on the French Riviera, causing the preventive evacuation of thousands of people, including many tourists in campsites.

“Thousands of people have been evacuated as a preventive measure, but there are no casualties. Some 750 firefighters are fighting against this fire which is still very virulent, ”according to a spokesperson for firefighters from the Var department, one of the most touristic places in France in August.

“The fire is still not under control at the present time,” added a firefighter communications manager at the command post in the town of Luc (Var). The firefighters fear that the disaster will intensify during the day: due to the high temperatures and the mistral, “the flames have progressed at 4 km / hour while usually it is 1 km per hour”.

“Half of the Plaine des Maures nature reserve has been devastated. It’s a disaster, because it’s one of the last spots sheltering Hermann’s turtle, ”Concha Agero, deputy director of the French Biodiversity Office, told AFP.

The evacuations of thousands of people took place in the hinterland of Cavalaire and Saint-Tropez, especially around the villages of Grimaud or La Môle, Commander Delphine Vienco told AFP.

The prefecture of Var has also confirmed the evacuation of several campsites and asked “not to obstruct the roads around the Gulf of Saint-Tropez” to let the emergency services work, while traffic is always delicate at this time of year. because of the high traffic on the small roads of the department.

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This fire is one of the most important of the summer in a region traditionally exposed to the risk of fire, but which had been relatively spared in view of the fires which have ravaged several countries around the Mediterranean in recent weeks (Greece, Italy, Algeria, Spain, Morocco).

According to the Prometheus database on forest fires in the Mediterranean region in France, the area burned in the four regions concerned was 2336 hectares for 2021, against 7698 for the whole of 2020.

Evacuees are received in municipal halls.

The fire that broke out on Monday at a motorway rest area on the A57, about one hundred kilometers northeast of the coastal city of Toulon, had covered 3,500 hectares of forest and scrubland in the Massif des Maures, Tuesday morning, according to firefighters.

“Adverse conditions”

A long line of gray smoke was clearly visible on the reliefs of the Moors, noted an AFP photographer from Le Luc.

“This is the area covered, but it is too early to estimate the area burned,” said the firefighters who are resuming the water drops by plane and helicopter in addition to the ground control means.

Firefighters came to reinforce several departments in south-eastern France.

“We managed to prevent the fire from touching La Garde-Freinet during the night”, a village located in the Massif des Maures, about twenty kilometers from Saint-Tropez.

The south-east of France had been relatively spared so far, but this fire is one of the most important of the summer and could prove to be as destructive as the one which affected the mountain of Alaric in the Aude at the end of July. . The biggest fire of the summer in France, it had devastated some 850 hectares in total according to the latest report.

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Last year, a fire ravaged 1,000 hectares in Martigues, west of Marseille, in a very touristy area. At least 2,700 people, including many tourists, had to be evacuated, some by sea.

The mistral that arrived in Provence on Monday fed several other fires at the entrance to the Calanques National Park near Marseille, or in the Var again, on the Giens peninsula, but these fires were brought under control.

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