Wildfire raging near French Riviera kills 1, injures 27

International News

Evacuated campers play cards in a gymnasium in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Firefighters have been able to “stabilize” the blaze that raced Tuesday through forests near the French Riviera, forcing thousands of people to flee homes, campgrounds and hotels in a picturesque area beloved by residents and tourists alike.. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

BORMES-LES-MIMOSAS, France (AP) — A wildfire near the French Riviera has killed one person and remained out of control as it raged through forests for a third day Wednesday, according to authorities.

A neighbor found the burned body of the victim, whose home near the town of Grimaud was destroyed by the fire, the prosecutor in Draguignan commune said. An investigation has been opened to formally identify the person and determine the cause of death.

French newspaper Var-Matin identified the victim as a man.

At least 27 people, including five firefighters, have suffered smoke inhalation or minor injuries from the blaze, the prefecture of the Var region said, adding that more than 7,000 people were evacuated from homes and campgrounds and have slept in temporary shelters. The picturesque Mediterranean region is beloved by residents and tourists alike.

Over 1,100 firefighters, water-dumping planes and helicopters were being deployed Wednesday to battle the fire, which started Monday evening about 40 kilometers (24 miles) inland from the coastal resort of Saint-Tropez.

Fueled by powerful seasonal winds coming off the Mediterranean Sea, the fire had encompassed 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of forest by Wednesday morning, the prefecture said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been vacationing in a nearby coastal fortress, visited the fire zone on Tuesday and praised firefighters for “stabilizing” the blaze.

Local authorities closed roads, blocked access to forests and urged caution. Officials warned that the fire risk would remain very high through Wednesday because of hot, dry weather. Temperatures have reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) in recent days.

Wildfires have swept across the Mediterranean regionin recent weeks, leaving areas in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Algeria and Spain in smoldering ruins.

In Greece, a major wildfire northwest of Athens, the capital, decimated large tracts of pine forest for a third dayon Wednesday.

While the Mediterranean is known for its sunny, hot summers, scientists voice little doubt thatclimate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving extreme events such as heat waves, droughts and wildfires. Such hardships are likely to happen more frequently as Earth continues to warm, they say.

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Corbet contributed from Saulieu, France.

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