France: 22 injured, 2,700 evacuated from fires near Marseille

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PARIS (AP) – Fires fueled by strong Mediterranean winds have raged in several cities in the Marseille region of France, injuring at least 22 people, destroying several businesses and forcing the evacuation of 2,700 tourists, retirement home residents and other. Some 1,800 firefighters, supported by planes and helicopters, battled the worst fire of the night around the town of Martigues. They were still working on Wednesday to put it out more than 14 hours after it burst on Tuesday, according to local fire departments.

Its flames spread rapidly from a wooded area towards the sea, eight kilometers (five miles), sweeping through residential areas and several campgrounds. Firefighters rushed to evacuate the campers by land and sea.

The cause of the fires is not known.

Eight civilians and 14 firefighters were lightly injured in the Martigues blaze and five others that broke out in the region on Tuesday, firefighters said. The other fires were brought under control in the towns of Port-de-Bouc, Aubagne-Carnoux, Gignac-la-Nerthe and Fontvieille.

Given the lingering winds Wednesday morning and dry, hot weather across France, authorities have banned any controlled fires in the area or construction work involving sparks or hot equipment until the fires are extinguished.

Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin rushed to the site overnight and fire teams were dispatched from other areas to help.

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