France — A forest fire near the south-eastern French city of Marseille ravaged hundreds of acres of woodland on Sunday and forced the evacuation of some 2,000 campers on a summer break. The fire, which broke out on Saturday, was “however contained and under control,” said Luc Jorda, head of the fire and emergency services in the Bouches-du-Rhone department.
Jorda said a car which had caught fire sparked the inferno.
Firefighters said about 1,600 acres of forest had been destroyed. A camp site at Carry-le-Rouet,a tourist town about 30 kilometres west of Marseille, was evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Herve Artero, who is in charge of the camp site, said about 200 people had been lodged in a gymnasium and added that about 10 percent of the estimated 2,000 campers were foreigners.
More than 600 firefighters, 75 fire trucks and waterbombing planes and helicopters are being used to fight the first forest fire of the season in southern France.
THE FIRST WILDFIRE OF THE SEASON took off Saturday evening in the southern region of Rhone, France. The fire traveled through 900 hectares (2,200 acres) before it was brought under control Sunday morning.
During the night the blaze began moving toward the town of dEnsuès-la-Redonne when winds of 90 kmh (55 mph) whipped the flames up and directed the fire in that direction. A total of 450 firefighters were on the scene and had the fire under control and contained by midday Sunday.
Police have opened a criminal investigation into the fire after learning it was started by a burning auto left in the forest. The car, a Porsche Cayenne had been stolen earlier that morning in Marignane and abandoned. It hasnt been learned if the car was left because it had caught fire, or whether it was deliberately torched.