by David Chazan, The Telegraph, July 26, 2017
Wildfires raging across south-eastern France forced more than 10,000 residents and holidaymakers to flee homes and campsites overnight.
About 3,000 campers were among those escorted to safety. The actress Joan Collins, 84, abandoned her house near Saint Tropez yesterday. She said in a tweet that the fire in her area had started from a barbecue.
The blazes along the Riviera and in Corsica began on Monday. They are being spread by strong Mistral winds. More than 20 of about 4,000 emergency workers fighting the fires have been hurt.
Lisa Minot, a British tourist staying at a campsite in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, told the BBC that she saw planes collecting water and carrying it "into the pool of black smoke."
"The fires have been going all night, our campsite has its own beach and at two o'clock this morning they evacuated everybody," she said.
"There are about 1,000 pitches in the campsite, they evacuated everyone down to the beach and we have been here ever since.
She said around 3,000 people had been moved to the beach and asked not to move by authorities, adding: "The sun has come up and it is going to be 31 degrees today, but because of the pool smoke that is over the entire sky, the sun is not as hot as it probably could be.""There are very strong winds ... and this is what is hampering the efforts to fight the fire, because they really cannot predict where the flames are going to go next."
The latest blaze broke out in Bormes-Les-Mimosas, in Provence. The area’s population doubles or triples in July and August with the arrival of holidaymakers, a fire service official said.
“The fire started around midnight and areas were evacuated as the fire progressed,” the official said.
The blaze may have been started by arsonists, said François Arizzi, the mayor of Bormes-les-Mimosas. “The investigation will tell us, but I suspect there was malice.”
Fires often ravage the French Riviera but this year the area is experiencing an exceptionally hot and dry summer, making it particularly vulnerable.
The blazes have destroyed brush and vegetation in about 4,000 hectares (15 square miles) of land along France’s Mediterranean coast.