High winds and tinderbox conditions fuelled fears of new fires in southern France yesterday as blazes which killed three people on the Portuguese holiday island of Madeira were brought under control.
Firefighters tamed wildfires on the northern edge of the French port city of Marseille overnight, but official Jean Rampon said: “Violent winds are exposing the area to the risk of new fires.”
He said that the dry vegetation was a matter of concern.
At the port of Fos-surMer, northwest of Marseille, 800 hectares had gone up in flames on Wednesday, Rampon said.
The fires took hold on Wednesday afternoon and spread over 3 300ha of scrub and wooded areas.
Some 1 800 firefighters, including many drafted in from elsewhere in France, had joined the battle backed by about 500 rescue vehicles, five air tankers and two helicopters and about 100 police, Rampon said.
“Three people suffered burns, including one who is seriously injured,” he said.
About 20 firefighters and a dozen police officers were suffering from smoke inhalation.
At least 500 people forced to leave their homes spent the night in shelters.
Fires had damaged many houses and several industrial buildings, Rampon said.
Transport by road and air was badly affected by the fire on Wednesday evening, with two motorways closed and some flights cancelled at Marseille airport.
In Madeira’s picturesque capital Funchal, fires which had turned the sky orange and forced foreign holidaymakers to be evacuated, were brought under control overnight.
The fires broke out on Monday and three people perished in their homes close to the historic centre of Funchal.
About 1 000 people were initially evacuated, including many foreign tourists.
On the Portuguese mainland, some 1 800 firefighters were still battling a dozen major forest fires that have raged since last weekend in the north.