Thousands evacuated as forest fire rages in south France tourist spot

More than 500 firefighters have worked through the night. The blaze near Argelès-sur-Mer is now reported to be under control with no deaths reported

Forest fire with helicopter flying over delivering water
Three helicopters, 13 planes and 650 firefighters were mobilised to fight the blaze. Stock photo for illustration only
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Thousands of people were evacuated last night (August 14) from campsites and homes after a massive forest fire broke out 30km south of Perpignan and rapidly spread to destroy 530 hectares of land.

The fire is 30km south of Perpignan in the commune of Saint André Pic: Googlemaps

The blaze was declared at 17:00 and within two hours, due to the high temperatures (up to 39C), dry conditions and high winds, grew to cover 50 hectares, with flames several metres tall and columns of smoke that blotted out the sun to vehicles on the road.

The fire was concentrated in the commune of Saint André, near Argelès-sur-Mer, a popular spot for holiday-makers and especially campers.

Quick and effective response

Within four hours, more than 500 firefighters, three helicopter ‘buckets’ (that are used to drop water on fires and 13 planes were on the scene, states the Ministry of the Interior, with more help coming from neighbouring departments.

The SDIS 66 firefighters, currently battling the wildfire, request that people avoid the area and avoid “ceding to curiosity”.

In total, 650 firefighters have been mobilised, 17 of whom have suffered injury.

However, the fire-fighting battle through the night has been successful in halting the spread of the fire, which is now considered to be “under control” according to the Prefect of Pyrenees Orientales.

Massive evacuations

As a precaution, more than 3,000 people were evacuated by 22:00, including many tourists, from the Chênes Rouges, Bois Fleuri and Al Sol campsites close to the popular holiday spot of Argelès-sur-Mer.

Evacuees spent the night in municipal rooms and gymnasiums in Argelès-sur-Mer where they were greeted by volunteers from the Red Cross and local politicians.

No deaths have been reported. The Chênes Rouges campsite remains closed.

High risk of fires continues

At present, several regions of the south are on high alert for wildfires, with the Var and Vaucluse departments most at risk, states the Association Prevention et Signalement de Feu de Foret. The Var Prefecture has again closed off access to four of their vast nature reserves, reminding the public that 90% of wildfires are of human origin (whether deliberate or by accident).

As a further precaution, two motorway service stations on the A57 have been closed. The massive wildfire at Cannet des Maures in 2021 started at a service station and went on to cover more than 7,000 hectares.

Have you been affected by the fire in the commune of Saint André or by the evacuations? Please contact us via

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