Wildfires force French Riviera evacuation of thousands

A Canadair firefighting plane drops water to extinguish a forest fire on La Croix Valmer from Cavalaire-sur-Mer near Saint-Tropez France

In Bormes-Les-Mimosas, where the prime minister visited, numerous evacuated people were staying in a local sports centre while others have slept on beaches. "We tried to gather all important things ..."

Marion Manent, whose husband's trailer homes were burned, was suspicious about the origins of the fire around La Londe.

Wildfires broke out on Monday in the south of France.

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.

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"Someone is certainly responsible ... for me, he is a killer", she told BFM-TV.

Wildfires tearing through a dry Mediterranean forest have prompted authorities to evacuate some 12,000 people from three popular tourist destinations in the Var region of the French Riviera.

The Civil Protection Agency reports it has deployed more than 1,100 firefighters and 23 water-dropping aircraft to 13 blazes.

The Toulon airport to the west was briefly closed. About 800 hectares of back-country forest had burned by morning.

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Three thousand firefighters have been deployed to contain the flames that broke out Monday in the southeast of France and Corsica and have consumed 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of vegetation.

The blaze was the latest of several wind-whipped fires that are ravaging forest and scrubland on the hills and slopes that spill into the Mediterranean sea between the Marseilles and the city of Nice in the southeastern corner of France.

Portugal's peak fire season, which usually starts after July 1, began early this year amid a severe drought.

Firefighters have contained one of the largest fires in southern France and authorities have cleared thousands of evacuees to return to their homes and campsites. Last month, 64 people died in a wildfire. The worst-affected areas continued to be in the central region of the country, especially a fire around Serta, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon, which was burning for a fifth day. "It's a lifetime's effort from local people that is destroyed", Arizzi said. Coldiretti said another 20 percent of the bee population is estimated to have become disoriented from the smoke of the fires and died as a result.

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