Wildfires smolder in southern France | News | DW | 12.08.2016
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Wildfires smolder in southern France

French authorities say wildfires are no long threatening the city of Marseille even as hundreds remain evacuated. Some 1,800 French firefighters are tackling wildfires in the surrounding countryside.

French authorities say wildfires are no longer threatening the city of Marseille even as hundreds remain evacuated. Some 1,500 French firefighters are tackling wildfires in the surrounding countryside.

"Three people suffered burns including one who is seriously injured," municipal official Jean Rampon told the AFP news agency, adding that around 20 firefighters and a dozen police officers were suffering from smoke inhalation.

At least two wildfires continue to burn around the Mediterranean port city Marseille, forcing the airport to reroute incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft. City residents are now sighing with the relief as fire breaks have managed to route the fires away from the city center.

"The fire seems to be less intense than before but is not yet under control," Marseille mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin said in a tweet.

Whipped up by strong winds, the blaze took hold around 3:30 p.m. (1330 UTC) Wednesday and has spread to more than 2,260 hectares (5,600 acres) of scrubland, grass and some wooded areas.

"We haven't seen a situation like this for a very long time," the French fire service said in a statement. Low rainfall this winter and spring left southeast France extremely dry and the fires are blanketing the sky with smoke over France's third largest city.

Südfrankreich Waldbrände näher Marseille

Les Pennes-Mirabeau, near Marseille, southern France as wildfire moved quickly on August 11, 2016. Structures have been lost and thousands evacuated.

The origins of the French fires, which started in Rognac, north of Vitrolles, remain unknown. Further west in Herault, four firefighters were injured battling another blaze when their truck was surrounded by a wall of flames.

Hundreds of extra firefighters have been drafted in from elsewhere in France to tackle the conflagration. Road and air transport are badly affected by the fire with two motorways closed and some flights cancelled at Marseille airport.

jar/kl (AP, AFP)

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