700 firefighters battle blaze in southern France

BESSÈGES, France: Around 700 firefighters backed by aircraft were on Friday battling a massive blaze in France’s southern Gard region that had already burned 600 hectares (1,500 acres) overnight.
The operation “is continuing, but the fire is advancing more slowly and fortunately is no longer threatening any homes,” a spokesman for the local fire service told AFP early Friday, adding that several fire fronts remained “inaccessible”.
Two Milan firefighting planes summarized dumping water on the blaze from early in the morning, the spokesman said.


Firefighters spray water to extinguish a wildfire near BessegesSouthern France (AFP Photo)
People in the hamlet of Bordezac and other small settlements in the Besseges area were evacuated on Thursday evening, with the local prefect’s office saying around 100 had to be put up for the night.
Firefighters were drawn from neighboring regions to battle the flames Thursday, while 12 firefighting planes and two helicopters were also deployed.
The fire service said thousands of hectares of heavily wooded land were under threat, as strong winds fanned the flames through the dried-out trees.
Although several other fires began in the region on Thursday, most were put out before nightfall.


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