France Hundreds of people are still unable to return to their homes in Marseille, but authorities have said that wind-whipped fires are no longer threatening the southern French city.
At least two wildfires had been burning toward the Mediterranean port, forcing the airport to reroute incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft. With winds still high, authorities said on Thursday the danger was not over for some nearby towns, and roads in the area were closed.
Whipped on by high winds, the blaze destroyed homes in the town of Vitrolles, about 25km (15.5 miles) north of Marseille, and in nearby Pennes-Mirabeau.
Firefighters in Portugal are also battling multiple blazes fed by brush in a hot, dry summer for a sixth straight day. A total of 186 wildfires were counted on Wednesday on Portugals mainland alone and on Thursday, 12 were burning out of control.
Meanwhile, Spanish authorities said five major fires were raging in the north-western region of Galicia, with 10 others under control.
On Wednesday Marseilles deputy mayor, Julien Ruas, said on BFM-TV that the size of the fire was absolutely exceptional, and advised people to stay off the roads.
Four firefighters were injured, three seriously, battling a blaze in the nearby Hérault region, according to Frances interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve. That fire and a fire in an industrial area outside Marseille that stocks oil and petrochemicals were contained while other blazes raged north of Marseille.
The minister said 1,800 firefighters had been mobilised to fight blazes that have destroyed more than 2,000 hectares (nearly 5,000 acres) of land, including some homes. Around 400 police officers helped towns secure homes and firefighting aircraft, including Canadairs and Trackers, were mobilised.
The largest fire burned in the Rognac area, spreading south to Vitrolles, Pennes-Mirabeau and Cabriès. High winds blew flames through the dense brush of the southern backcountry, dry from a summer season with little rain.
Everything burned, the house, the car; there is nothing left, a distressed resident of Vitrolles, identified only as Sylvestre, told BFM-TV. My neighbours, its the same. Everything has been razed, everything is black, deserted.
Thick smoke could be seen from Marseille, while black plumes rose above Vitrolles and Pennes-Mirabeau. The fire is entering the village, Pennes-Mirabeaus mayor, Michel Amiel, said on BFM-TV.
Fire ravaged land around Fos-Sur-Mer, which includes a vast industrial zone about 40km north-west of Marseille. But a spokesperson for the prefecture of the Bouches-du-Rhône region said late on Wednesday that the blaze was no longer gaining ground. At least 20 vehicles and camping vans were destroyed there.