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First large fire of year destroys 130 hectares in southeast France

Eight people were evacuated and five properties needed to be ‘protected.’ The cause is as yet not known

More than 100 firefighters attended the incident, which has been dubbed the first large fire of the year in France Pic: photofort 77 / Shutterstock

More than 100 hectares of vegetation have been destroyed in a fire in a natural park in southeast France, with more than 230 firefighters on-site as part of the emergency response.

The fire is being called the first big blaze of the year. It took place in the natural park of Alpilles in the commune of Mouriès, Bouches-du-Rhône, at the weekend (February 4-5).

Hundreds of firefighters and around 100 fire engines were on-site, of which 60 were specifically dedicated to fighting the flames, the fire department said. 

Initially, firefighters estimated that the fire had travelled 130 hectares before it was brought under control. The flames were fanned by strong winds, which at times reached 110km/h. 

On Sunday, the state weather forecast service MétéoFrance lifted its yellow alert for wind in the department.

Around 100 firefighters remained on-site overnight to guarantee the dampening of residual flames, a firefighter spokesperson said. 

Five properties in the area needed to be protected, the emergency services said. Eight people were also asked to evacuate as a preventative measure and some roads nearby were closed as a precaution. No-one was injured in the incident.

The gendarmerie are continuing an inquiry to determine the cause of the blaze which started at around 5:30 near a departmental road and said: “The origins need us to do research and at this stage, no single cause has been determined.”

The first fire of the year comes after last year, 2022, was judged to be particularly savage for wildfires. Hundreds of thousands of hectares were burned and at least 48 people were arrested in connection with suspected arson.

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