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WILDFIRES

3,000 people evacuated as more wildfires break out in France

Emergency crews evacuated 3,000 people from their homes overnight as more wildfires broke out in southern France, adding to the tally of what is France's worst year on record for wildfires.

3,000 people evacuated as more wildfires break out in France
This is the worst year on record for wildfires in France. Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP

The fire broke out on Monday evening in Lozère, in the south east of the country, and by Tuesday morning had burned 700 hectares of land and reached the neighbouring département of Aveyron.

A total of 600 firefighters are deployed in the area, plus helicopters, and there are no reported injuries.

The cause of the fire is believed to be sparks from an agricultural machine that was working in the area.

The fire is just the latest in a series to hit France this summer, including a huge blaze at Dune du Pilat in south west France, which burned for more than two weeks and destroyed an area of forest twice the size of Paris.

MAP: Where are the main wildfires in France right now?

This is the worst year on record for wildfires in France, with the European Forest Fire Information System estimating that 47,000 hectares have burned since July – a total area five times the size of Paris. 

France is experiencing an exceptionally hot and dry summer, with drought warnings in place for much of the country, which firefighters say has turned much of the country into a ‘tinderbox’ with a very high risk of wildfires.

In the south of the country many local authorities have imposed extra restrictions on access to forest areas and banned the use of fireworks.

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WILDFIRES

Summer wildfires in France: 48 arrested on suspicion of arson

Police have arrested 48 people for allegedly starting forest fires in France during the summer, a spokeswoman told AFP Friday, after a season marked by large, devastating blazes.

Summer wildfires in France: 48 arrested on suspicion of arson

Up to 10,000 French firefighters a day were mobilised this summer to fight fires which have ravaged more than 65,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System — a record since the start of satellite data in 2006.

Of the 48 arrested, 12 people have already been sentenced to two years in prison, while “more than a dozen” have been remanded in custody, said national gendarmerie spokeswoman Marie-Laure Pezant.

“We found young people, minors, retirees, mostly men,” she said, adding that the suspects came from all backgrounds.

Some have “a weaker psychological profile, sometimes mental disorders,” Pezant said, adding that some of the suspects were firefighters as well.

According to the National Forestry Office, nine out of 10 fires are of human origin and, on average, three out of 10 fires are intentionally started.

France’s southwestern Gironde department – home to part of Europe’s largest coniferous forest – was particularly affected this summer, with 30,000 hectares going up in smoke.

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