France A FIREFIGHTER has been killed and three colleagues seriously injured when their vehicle crashed as they raced to join others fighting a forest fire near Barcarès (Pyrénées-Orientales) which had already seen 3,000 campers evacuated.
It is not yet known what caused the accident that killed the sapeur-pompier, a full-time firefighter in his 40s from Perpignan, but it came on a small road to Baho, near four Mediterranean coastal campsites where French, German, Belgian and British visitors had had to be evacuated as the flames approached.
The battle against the flames, driven by very strong Tramontane winds, also saw 17 pompiers being treated for the effects of smoke inhalation and two others being treated for blast injuries after gas canisters exploded on a campsite. It was reported this morning that the fire had been controlled after destroying 10 hectares of brush.
One of the campsite visitors told reporters that they had been asked by camp managers to get ready to leave after seeing fire spotter planes circling the area and had been told to leave their cars.
So far seven tents and 22 bungalows have been destroyed at the Torreilles campsite and two neighbouring campsites are also under threat. Elsewhere, 200 hectares of pine forest was lost as a fire hit an area near yesterdays Tour de France route north-west of Narbonne in Aude when 220 residents were evacuated from Bize-Minervois. All residents were later allowed home last night.
At Chateauneuf-les-Martigues, near Marseille, a forest fire destroyed 150 hectares of brush and six pompiers were hurt as they fought to control the flames.
In Var, the prefecture has banned all July 14 fireworks displays because of the risks of forest fire.