Wildfire destroys 600 hectares in south of France, blaze continues

Over 500 firefighters are working to extinguish the flames

Planes are being used to drop water onto the flames
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A wildfire has destroyed over 600 hectares close to St Tropez in southern France and continues to burn today (Wednesday June 12), with over 500 firefighters working to put out the blaze. 

The fire broke out at around 15:00 on Tuesday in Vidauban, in the mountainous area of the Massif des Maures, the Var department’s fire brigade said. 

Firefighters were surprised by the strength of the blaze so early in the season Lieutenant Colonel Michel Persoglio, of the Var fire brigade told France Bleu. 

No injuries had been reported so far, but around 100 people were evacuated in preventative measures, reports FranceInfo. They had been able to return to their homes as of Wednesday morning. 

Reinforcements, including firefighters and machinery, have been sent from neighbouring departments to tackle the fire. 

Three planes and a helicopter have been used to drop water onto the flames, and nearly 200 vehicles were used to douse the flames.

“Firefighters are still working to contain the Vidauban fire after a night of working,” the Var prefecture wrote on X on Wednesday morning.

Firefighters are concerned strong winds could fan the flames further. 

“The heat of the day and the wind, which will pick up, will not make the work of the firefighters easier,” the Var fire brigade said. 

Firefighters also said the weather conditions of 2024 - a wet spring followed by warm early summer - had spurred on undergrowth in the area. 

The Var is one of the departments where clearing undergrowth (débroussaillement) is mandatory. 

Homeowners can be fined if they do not adequately clear undergrowth from their land.

Read more: Land clearance in France: rules, fines and tax credits for garden work

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire.