Wildfires Force Thousands to Evacuate in Southern France

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PARIS — Thousands of people were evacuated from homes and vacation sites in southeastern France on Wednesday as strong winds fueled wildfires that had been raging across the region for days.

At least 10,000 people, including 3,000 campers, were evacuated overnight — some to beaches nearby — after a forest fire started near Bormes-les-Mimosas, a town on the Mediterranean coast, where the population surges with vacationers during the summer.

At least two homes were gutted and a firefighter suffered an injury battling the blaze, but so far there have been no reports of fatalities, officials said. The prefecture of Var, the region that includes Bormes-les-Mimosas, said in a statement that nearly 2,000 acres of a forest near the town had burned and that more than 500 firefighters had been deployed.

Thousands of acres have burned over the past few days in the region, including across the French Riviera and on the island of Corsica, prompting evacuations, cutting off highways and sending huge plumes of smoke into the skies.

Sylvie Houspic, a Var official, told the BFMTV news channel that the fire on Tuesday evening near Bormes-les-Mimosas had started in a trailer park at a camping spot in a “densely populated” area.

“It quickly spread due to the gusts of wind, which continue to blow,” Ms. Houspic said. She added that two houses had burned down and that a firefighter had suffered a broken wrist.

Robert Harris, a British writer vacationing in the area with his family, said in a phone interview: “We simply grabbed whatever we could.”

Mr. Harris, 60, said he fled his house in Cap Bénat, about six miles south of Bormes-les-Mimosas, at 2 a.m. with his wife and two children.

“It looked as though the whole of the Cap Bénat seemed to be on fire,” Mr. Harris said, adding that people had evacuated calmly to the nearest beaches.

Summer fires are a common occurrence in the region and elsewhere in southern Europe, where blazes spread rapidly through forests and scrubland left parched by droughts.

Var was hit hardest on Tuesday and Wednesday, but firefighters have been battling dozens of fires elsewhere in southeastern France.

In blazes near the towns of La Croix-Valmer and Artigues, at least 10 firefighters were injured on Tuesday, but those fires were under control, the Var prefecture said on Wednesday.

The prefecture announced that forest parks in the area would be closed for the day. Other sites, including the Toulon Hyères Airport and the fort of Brégançon, one of the French presidency’s official residences, were also shut down.

Another fire started early on Wednesday in the Bouches-du-Rhône area, near the town of Martigues, west of the port of Marseille, according to firefighters, who said they were able to contain the blaze after it had burned through about 100 acres of pine forest.

Although officials have not yet determined the cause of the fires, Grégory Allione, the head of the Fire Department in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, said on the radio station France Info on Monday that he suspected “malicious acts” in several cases. He also cautioned people not to smoke, light fires or start barbecues in the forests.

More than 4,000 firefighters and soldiers have been deployed on the ground, according to a statement by the Interior ministry.

“I call on everyone’s civic-mindedness,” Interior Minister Gérard Collomb posted on Twitter on Monday night. “These disasters can and must be avoided,” he wrote.

France has requested two water bombers from its European neighbors to help battle the fires, and Mr. Collomb announced on Tuesday in Corsica that six Canadair water bombers would be added to the country’s air fleet.