Several homes and several businesses including three campsites near the municipalities of Martigues and Port du Bouc had to be evacuated with authorities calling on the populations to avoid using certain roads.
“The fierce struggle will continue throughout the night to bring the population to safety and protect homes,” firefighters said on Twitter.
More than 30 trucks were also deployed, aided by seven water bombers.
The town hall of Martigues has opened five reception centers for the evacuees.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who reviewed the forest fire prevention and control system in the Bouches-du-Rhône on Tuesday morning, said while “reckless behavior” is often the cause forest fires “causing significant human and environmental risks”.
“I urge everyone to be civic and vigilant,” he added. He is due to return to the area later Tuesday evening or overnight.
It is still unclear how this wildfire started, but access to the region’s forests has been restricted since the weekend as strong winds and high temperatures have increased the risk of a wildfire.
Between 2015 and 2019, an annual average of 9,300 hectares caught fire in each department along the French Mediterranean coast.