France evacuates 10,000 campers as Provence burns

Firefighters inspecting the damage after a wildfire swept over a campsite.
Firefighters inspecting the damage after a wildfire swept over a campsite.PHOTO: AFP
Firefighters inspecting the damage after a wildfire swept over a campsite.
Firefighters inspecting the damage after a wildfire swept over a campsite.PHOTO: AFP
Firefighters inspecting the damage after a wildfire swept over a campsite.
Firefighters inspecting the damage after a wildfire swept over a campsite.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French officials evacuated 10,000 people from three different campsites on Monday as hot winds fanned fires in drought-hit Provence in the middle of the summer holiday season, officials said.

Three fires broke out in the south-eastern Var region, spreading quickly as strong winds whipped the area, which is parched due to a lack of rain and high temperatures.

Thirty mobile homes went up in flames in one camping site in Frejus, about 40km west of Cannes, and 10 in another, local government said in a statement, adding over 200 firemen and 50 firetrucks were battling the blaze.

Four water-bomber aircraft and two helicopters were deployed to fight a fire in a village near the Gorges du Verdon - a river canyon that is a major tourist attraction in the region.

Meanwhile a forest fire raging since Friday in south-western France has now ravaged some 580ha of pine forest on the western edges of the city of Bordeaux.

With much of France affected by drought, President Francois Hollande visited the Var area on Monday - before the fires broke out there - to observe an exercise in fighting forest fires.

"Unfortunately weather conditions are favourable to the fire starting up again (near Bordeaux), with the wind and the drought. We must be vigilant all over France," he said.