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Hundreds forced to flee as fires ravage the south of France

By Staff Reporter

Published 12/08/2016

A helicopter carries an extinguisher in the struggle against a spreading fire near Vitrolles, southern France
A helicopter carries an extinguisher in the struggle against a spreading fire near Vitrolles, southern France
Firefighters flee the flames
A woman is devastated by the loss of her home
A number of caravans were destroyed

Wildfires in the south of France have been contained by firefighters after they erupted near Marseille.

The city of Marseille was spared from the flames, but hundreds of families in the south of the country remained evacuated from their homes.

Officials said that windy conditions meant towns in the area remained in danger.

Three civilians and four fighters were injured by the fires, some seriously.

The inferno engulfed homes and at least one school in the region.

Major roads were closed for fire engines and Marseille airport redirected flights to allow room for firefighting aircraft, as more than 1,500 firefighters rushed to calm the flames.

One resident in Vitrolles told BFM-TV: “Everything burned, the house, the car... there is nothing left.”

How the fires — which took hold in Rognac — began has not yet been established.

Gymnasiums in the region were packed overnight with hundreds of local people who were not allowed to return to their homes, news agency AP reported.

Although fires in the summer months are frequent in the south of France, it is very unusual for them to cause such severe  destruction in urban areas.

Portugal has also been experiencing devastating wildfires, with blazes on the island of Madeira reaching its largest city.

More than 150 homes were destroyed by the blazes and three people have so far reported to have been killed.

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