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Wild fires ravage Calanques park in southern France
Photo: AFP

Wild fires ravage Calanques park in southern France

Ben McPartland · 6 Sep 2016, 08:55

Published: 06 Sep 2016 08:55 GMT+02:00

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The fires ignited on Monday afternoon and burned throughout the night in the departments of Bouches-du-Rhône, Aude and Tarn.

Although the fires were under control by Tuesday morning, authorities called for caution in the Gard department and the area around the Rhône river delta due to the risk of further blazes.

The Bouches-du-Rhone, where temperatures had topped 30C for several days, had been placed on alert for “exceptional danger” – the first time in many years.

They were given force by strong winds with the Mistral making the job far harder for the hundreds of firefighters and soldiers who were drafted in.

In all some 800 firefighters and 200 trucks were sent to tackle the bush fires. Canadair water-bombing planes were also dispatched until around 9pm.

Some residents in the southern part of Marseille were asked not to return home to avoid clogging the roads and making life difficult for firefighters.

In the Calanques national park the fire ignited not far from the Luminy University campus and by 10pm had burned around 350 hectares. Police believe it may have been started on purpose.

Some 800 hectares near the town of Tuchan  in the department of Aude were also burned

There were concerns the winds would help spread the fire towards the town on Cassis but the danger was averted.

By Tuesday morning authorities said the fire was more or less under control and they were hoping the drop in the strength of the winds will help them extinguish the blazes altogether.

“The wind should be almost nothing throughout the day and that is good news,” said a spokesman for the firefighters in the Bouches-du-Rhône.

There no victims or injured persons as a result of the fire and only isolated buildings were destroyed in the blaze.

Story continues below…

However images of the wildfire were once again impressive enough to heighten fears in nearby Marseille, with smoke visible from the centre of the city.

In August wildfires sparked panic in the north of Marseille as 3,000 hectares burned and some 1,500 were affected with 30 totally destroyed.

A lack of rainfall throughout winter and a dry hot summer has made the whole south east region particularly susceptible to the outbreak of fires.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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