French Riviera wildfire ‘no longer spreading but still not under control’

French Riviera wildfire 'no longer spreading but still not under control'
Photo: Sylvain Thomas / AFP
The massive wildfire in south-east France that has killed two people, injured dozens of others and destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of land is no longer spreading, officials have said.

But they warned the blaze is still not under control, amid concerns that increasing winds in the coming days would fan the flames. 

Var prefect Evence Richard warned that deteriorating weather conditions over the weekend meant that firefighters ‘cannot rule out new outbreaks’.

READ ALSO Weekend winds ‘risk worsening’ French Riviera fire

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More than 1,200 firefighters and 250 fire engines from all over France have been battling the blaze along an 80km front. It is under control, but not yet “out”, officials said. The risk of fresh fires means many exhausted emergency personnel will be on duty over the weekend.

The deceased have been identified as 54-year-old local guesthouse owner named Olivier, and a 32-year-old holidaymaker named Virginie, from the greater Paris Île-de-France region. Their bodies were found in a house that was destroyed by the fire in Val-de-Gilly.

A further 26 people have received medical treatment, mostly for smoke inhalation.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, which is believed it started at a motorway rest area near the glamorous resort of Saint-Tropez on Monday. 

“We know where it started and we are still working to find out what the exact cause is,” investigators said. 

Early and unconfirmed reports suggest that a carelessly discarded cigarette was the most likely cause of the fire, but officials have stressed that the inquiry is continuing.

Meanwhile, gendarmes have appealed for witnesses to the cause of the fire to come forward. 

“The gendarmerie is looking for the testimony of people with information on the circumstances of the start of the fire,” they tweeted.

READ ALSO What to do if you see a wildfire in France

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