France wildfires: British tourists forced to camp on beach as flames spread for third day

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Thousands of people evacuated from  raging in the south of  have been left stranded in gymnasiums and on beaches.

Some 12,000 people were told to leave houses around the picturesque coastal town of Bormes-les-Mimosas, as flames continued spread along the Mediterranean coast for a third day on Wednesday.

British tourists were among a crowd of more than 3,000 people forced to take refuge at a beach close to the resort of Saint-Tropez, after a campsite was evacuated overnight.

The wildfires began to burn along France’s Mediterranean coast on Monday, forcing smaller and more scattered evacuations.

Eric Martin, from the Var firefighting unit, told BFM-TV that nearly 600 firefighters had conducted about 100 operations to try to contain the flames. He said they had burned around 1,300 hectares (3,210 acres).

Four tracker planes and a fire-fighting aircraft were sent towards thick black smoke that billowed above the horizon. 

The airport in Toulon, a city 18 miles from La Londe, was briefly closed on Wednesday, as well as the Fort de Bregancon, a monument which sits on a rock off the coast of Bormes. 

Wildfires ravage the south of France

To the east, reinforcements were sent in to battle a blaze in Artigues that burned up to 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of forest. 

Another fire was contained on Tuesday evening in La Croix Valmer, after burning two villas, seriously injuring one firefighter and devouring about 500 hectares (1,235 acres).

Further south, flames consumed 2,000 hectares (4,950 acres) of forest on the northern end of the French island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze in France.

France’s Mediterranean coast is particularly vulnerable to fires, with its large forests – which are often dry in the summer – and strong mistral winds blowing across the sea to fan the flames. No injuries have been reported among residents and holidaymakers.

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The Foreign Office has advised tourists visiting the South of France to “monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities”.

It recommended tourists should search on Twitter for the latest advice from regional fire services.

Additional reporting by AP

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