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10,000 campers forced to flee forest fire in France

Oliver Gee · 27 Jul 2015, 16:58

Published: 27 Jul 2015 16:58 GMT+02:00

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The blaze ravaged around 30 hectares of land near the town of Frejus in the Var département of southern France.
It broke out on the Bagnols-en-Forêt road around the Pin de la Lègue estate in the early afternoon, and saw around 200 firefighters, 50 fire trucks, and water planes mobilized.
Not wanting to take any chances authorities decided to evacuate three campsites where 10,000 holidaymakers had been enjoying their summer vacation.
The camp sites were the luxury cabins at the Holiday Green (3,000 people), as well as Pin de la Lègue (5,500) and Pierre Verte (1,500).
Darren West, a 48-year-old Brit on a camping holiday at the Pin de la Lègue site, said that he hardly had time to react after seeing smoke rise above the trees in the early afternoon. 
"The speed was the most shocking thing. There was smoke in the air and then almost immediately we saw flames that were 15 feet high [4.6 metres] right by the main gate of the campsite," he told The Local. 
"There was no doubt it was a full blown fire."
He said what followed was several minutes of confusion and anxiety as the 5,500 campers were told to head away from the exit gate to avoid the flames. 
"There was a gridlock - and that's when the panic and anxiety kicked in. We saw several caravans on fire as we drove away," he added.
West said he had no time to take his belongings, and can only hope they remain back at the camp when he gets back there on Tuesday after staying in nearby Frejus. 
A camper at another site appeared to have been left in the dark during the evacuation, taking to social media to seek answers (below).
It appears that the Pin de la Legue was the worst hit of the campsites, with a spokesperson at the nearby Holiday Green telling The Local that theirs was a very calm evacuation.
"We evacuated the property well in advance, at around 2.30pm," she said.
"Everything is fine, there was no panic, and it was carried out calmly. We are telling clients that they can come back at around 7pm."
(The fire struck near the south coast of France, west of Cannes. Photo: GoogleMaps)
Story continues below…
Meanwhile, another fire has been raging for four days to the west of Bordeaux, with the homes of 1,000 people evacuated. Over 600 firefighters have been fighting the blaze, which began on Friday and looks set to keep firefighters busy for days to come. 
This summer has been a particularly hot one for France and left many areas in drought.
A crisis water restriction level was issued last week for several areas, seen in red in the map above, meaning that farmers have to put a stop to any unscheduled withdrawals from levies, and that only priority water use can be undertaken (for health, sanitation, or drinking).
July's heatwave, which claimed the lives of 700 people, has also affected tourists and climbers in the French Alps, where authorities have warned that there are risks of avalanches on Mont Blanc as the warm temperatures soften the snow pack.
(A firefighter on the scene at the fire near Bordeaux. Photo: AFP)
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