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New wildfire in south of France: 800 hectares burnt, arson suspected

The Hérault fire is not yet under control but it is no longer progressing, say authorities. Hundreds of homes have been evacuated

A wildfire in Hérault has burnt 800 hectares of land Pic: The Connexion / Virrage Images / Shutterstock

A fire which broke out yesterday (July 26) in Hérault in the south of France has covered 1,000 hectares and caused 300 people to be evacuated.

Authorities today say the flames are still not fully under control but are “no longer progressing”.

They believe that the fire, which is affecting the communes of Saint-Bauzille-de-la-Sylve, Gignac and Aumelas about 20kms to the west of Montpellier, was started deliberately. 

This is because several blazes sprang up at a similar time within a small area, later combining to form one large fire.

“We believe that [the fire] is a criminal [act], it is disastrous,” the mayor of Gignac, Jean-François Soto told Franceinfo, adding that there is a nature reserve very nearby. 

“When you see all the efforts that we make, all the resources that we put into it, and this result at the end, it’s hard.” 

Montpellier’s public prosecution department has opened a criminal investigation into the incident.

Eric Suzanne, the subprefect of Lodève, which is near to the scene of the fire, has said this morning (July 27) that it is “no longer progressing but we remain very vigilant”. 

Hérault’s fire service has stated that the blaze is “not yet under control, because we have many fronts to tackle”. 

The fire is said to be in a sparsely populated, scrubland area which is “difficult to access”.

The fire has covered 1,000 hectares of land, of which it has destroyed 800. Some 300 people have been evacuated but there have been no reported injuries among residents and no buildings have been damaged at this stage. 

Some five firefighters have sustained mild injuries, the authorities have said.

There are 650 firefighters at the scene, working to bring the fire completely under control.

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