Firefighters struggle to contain massive wildfires in the Var
A major wildfire in the Var is not yet under control and thousands of people have been evacuated. Visitors are asked to avoid the area to leave the roads clear.
The worst fire of the year so far on the Côte d'Azur has been burning in the Var department since late Monday afternoon. Starting from a fire source at a motorway service area near Gonfaron, extreme drought, heat, and strong winds have already caused around 7,000 hectares to go up in flames. The fire spread overnight towards the Gulf de Saint-Tropez and is still not under control as of this Wednesday afternoon. An estimated 10,000 people, including many holidaymakers on campsites, had to be evacuated.
The fire covers a huge area in the Moors Massif. After breaking out at around 5.45 p.m. last night, it spread eastwards from Gonfaron to La Garde-Freinet (10 p.m.) and from there southwards during the night to Grimaud (Gulf de Saint-Tropez) and to La Môle in the hinterland of the coastal strip between Saint-Tropez and Bormes-les-Mimosas. By midday Tuesday, two sources of fire were active - in the west (Plaine des Maures) and in the east of the aforementioned area.
As of today, the fire is still not under control, with the hot points in the Cogolin area and Cannet-des-Maures.
1,200 firefighters and 120 gendarmes are on the scene to fight the fire and provide security, according to the prefecture. Six fire-fighting aircraft as well as three fire-fighting helicopters have been flying back and forth between the fire sites and the sea again without interruption since daybreak. By Monday evening, 170 water loads had been emptied onto the fire from the air.
Many roads in the area are closed, including the RD33 (Le Luc-Les Mayons); RD75 (Gonfaron-La Garde-Freinet) ; RD558 (La Garde-Freinet - Grimaud); RD14 (Grimaud); RD2048 (Grimaud); RD27 (La Môle) ; RD98 between the Verrerie in Bormes-les-Mimosas and Cogolin.
Drivers should avoid the area between Bormes and Saint-Tropez.
The Prefect of the Var asks the population not to drive in the very touristy and currently very busy area between Bormes-les-Mimosas and the Golf de Saint-Tropez for the time being, in order not to block rescue routes and not to put themselves in danger. Onlookers hunting for photos or videos of the fire are asked to refrain from doing so.
Residents and visitors who were evacuated last night and housed in gymnasiums and other halls in the area are still not allowed to return to their homes. Among others, the campsites Charlemagne in Grimaud and PachaCaïd in La Môle as well as the campsites CGU, BonPorteau and Cros de Mouton in Cavalaire-sur-Mer had to be evacuated.
The fire continues to spread rapidly due to high temperatures and wind. Therefore, the prefect is asking people residents in the surrounding areas and the fire's path who have not been asked to leave their home by the rescue services to stay inside, keep windows, doors, and shutters closed and put wet cloths on the doorsteps to prevent smoke from entering the building.
As of this yesterday, the number of minor injuries stood at three, while around 20 people have been diagnosed with smoke inhalation.
Absolute danger of forest fires in the entire department of Var
Today 18 August, a "red" forest fire warning level is in force for all forest areas in the Var department, meaning that access is not allowed.
Updates on the fire can be followed on the Twitter page for the Var @Prefet83.