Des centaines de pompiers français ont combattu mardi un violent incendie près de la station balnéaire méditerranéenne de Saint-Tropez, des milliers d'habitants et de vacanciers ont été contraints d'évacuer. </p><div> <p>Environ 750 pompiers utilisant des tuyaux à haute pression et des avions larguant de l'eau tentaient de contrôler les flammes, qui ont commencé à traverser une réserve naturelle lundi soir.
“Thousands of people have been evacuated as a precaution, but there are no victims,” firefighter spokeswoman Delphine Vienco told AFP on Tuesday morning, adding that the fire was “still very violent ”.
Among those taken to safety, 1,300 people were staying in a campsite in the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, on the coast of sumptuous Saint-Tropez.
As tourists and locals fled, authorities warned them to avoid blocking roads used by emergency services.
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte are on vacation nearby, and he has announced that he will be visiting the region later.
The south of France is the latest area around the Mediterranean basin to be affected by forest fires this summer, a seasonal phenomenon that climatologists say will become increasingly common due to man-made global warming.
Large fires have already ravaged parts of Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Algeria and Morocco this year.
The fire reportedly started near a highway that crosses the Plaine des Maures nature reserve about 30 kilometers (18 miles) northwest of Saint-Tropez.
Many trees were burnt around their trunks but their branches were intact, suggesting that the fire had spread at high speed.
“We have never seen it spread at such a speed, it was three or four times more than usual,” Thomas Dombry, mayor of the village of La-Garde-Freinet, told AFP.
The fire approached La-Garde-Freinet during the night but spared the town, hard hit in 2003 by a catastrophic fire which claimed the lives of three firefighters.
The local fire department said more than 3,500 hectares of forest and scrubland burned on Tuesday morning.
Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin is due to visit the region later Tuesday.
The hot and dry south-east of France, which regularly experiences forest fires in summer, had been relatively untouched so far this year.
According to the Prometheus database on forest fires in the Mediterranean region, the total area burned in France in the four affected regions was 2,336 hectares for 2021, against 7,698 for the whole of 2020.
Last year, a fire devastated 1,000 hectares in a popular tourist region west of Marseille.
At least 2,700 people, including many tourists, had to be evacuated, some by sea.