THE A9 motorway outside the historic Aude town of Narbonne was closed in both directions for several hours this afternoon as a scrub fire, driven by strong northwesterly winds, raged near Peyriac-de-Mer.
More than 200 specialist firefighters and 40 vehicles, plus six “water bomber” aeroplanes were deployed to fight the fire, but at 7.30pm the prefecture reported 400 hectares of scrubland had been destroyed.
Long tailbacks developed on the A9, which was closed in both directions between junctions 37 and 40, as smoke crossed the highway.
At 5.30pm, central barriers at key points were removed to allow motorists to turn around and head back the way they had come.
The N9 was also closed to normal traffic to allow emergency services to get to the scene, while a portion of the A61 was cut off by the smoke.
La Depeche reports that Narbonne was completely gridlocked into the town centre as motorists unable to travel any further sought refuge in the town.
The town’s Parc des Expositions was opened to accommodate stranded motorists.
The A9 was partially reopened at 7.30pm, according to some reports. No injuries or damage to property have been reported.