The Var department in the southern French region of Provence has been placed at an unprecedented level of threat of forest fires, local authorities have warned.
The southern department has been placed on alert due to an “exceptional risk of forest fire” and the neighbouring Bouches-du-Rhône department is also at “very high risk”.
The threat comes as a result of the famous Mistral wind expected to affect the area from Monday until Thursday which could drive flames across the large areas of parkland in the region.
This, combined with the dry scrub land after a lack of rain, has led to a very likely threat of forest fires in the region.
In response to the threat posed by the winds which could reach up to 90km/h, authorities have banned access to the nine national parks in the Var and the 24 in the Bouches-du-Rhône where firefighters are on stand by and ready to jump into action if fires break out.
And Provence isn't the only region at risk with authorities in northern Corsica also announcing the closure of its forests due to the threat posed by strong winds expected on Monday, as well as evacuating a particularly vulnerable urban area.
In the Alps-de-Haute Provence department, “the level of danger from forest fires was raised to 'very high' in two of its six weather zones”, local authorities said on Sunday, adding that people are discouraged from using the area.
This isn't the first time this summer that forest fires have made the headlines with The Local reporting last week the story of a wild fire that ravaged 800 hectares of land near the southern French university city of Aix-en-Provence which was likely caused by a tossed cigarette butt.
More than 800 firefighters and 210 fire engines were drafted in to tackle the wild fire that led to roads and popular walking areas being closed off to the public.