1,000 evacuated as forest fires rage in France

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1,000 evacuated as forest fires rage in France

A forest fire in southern France sent 1,000 more people fleeing, while overnight rain brought blazes elsewhere in the country under control, officials said on Sunday Aug 14 France has been ravaged this summer by a historic drought and several forest fires.

A fire that had been raging since Monday in the southern Aveyron region appeared to be under control and dying on Saturday afternoon when it suddenly reignited in a virulent manner, gobbling up 500 more hectares, the prefecture said.

It said that more than 1,000 people were evacuated from the village of Mostuejols near the city of Millau and six nearby hamlets.

Around 3,000 people had already been evacuated because of the fire but were allowed back when it appeared to be under control. There have been no casualties from the blaze, which has consumed 1,260 hectares so far.

A man in the area was under investigation for accidentally starting the fire when a part of his trailer touched the road, sending off sparks that ignited the dried vegetation.

In order to limit the risks in eastern France, police said on Saturday they were banning entry for all but residents in most forests in the Bas-Rhin region near the German border.

A huge fire that had flared on Tuesday was under control in the southwestern Gironde region around Bordeaux after rain fell overnight, a senior official said.

The night was favourable to us, since we had rain and very little wind. The fire is now contained, Ronan Leaustic, deputy prefect of Arcachon commune, told reporters on Sunday.

He said that 8,000 people forced to evacuate could now return home.

The eastern department of Jura destroyed 1,000 hecatres after a fire in the eastern department of Jura brought under control.

Arnaud Mendousse, from Gironde fire and rescue, said earlier there had been between 10 and 30 mm of rain in the region but on terrain that is extremely dry. We know that this offers a respite but does not signify an end to the fight. The risk will increase if it doesn't rain in the next 48 to 72 hours. He said the humidity level has gone up and the temperature was relatively low at around 25 degrees Celsius, but he warned that the fire is not completely out and the soil remains extremely hot. Meteo France forecast lower temperatures and rain and thunderstorms for most of the country on Sunday.

In the northwest, in the legendary Broceliande forest in the region of Brittany - where King Arthur roamed and where wildfires are normally rare - a fire was contained after rain fell overnight but remained under watch over 400 hectares, officials said.

EU members including Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania have sent reinforcements to France to help fight blazes, and several water-bombing planes from the European Union fleet have also joined firefighting efforts.