Thousands evacuated as wildfire races through forests near French Riviera

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate homes and tourist hotspots after a forest fire broke out near the French Riviera.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze which started on Monday night near the coastal city of Toulon, in the south of the country.

Two firefighters have been reported injured in the blaze, which has been fuelled by powerful Mediterranean winds.

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Wildfire in southern France

The fire consumed around 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of the forest by Tuesday morning, according to the administration for the surrounding Var region.

Almost 6,000 people have been evacuated from homes and a dozen campsites in the region, with holidaymakers moved to a holiday centre for Air France employees.

Smoke billows from the forest near La Garde-Freinet, southern France. Pic: AP

Smoke billows from the forest near La Garde-Freinet, southern France. Pic: AP

The civil security service said more than 900 firefighters, supported by water-dumping planes and helicopters, are battling to contain the blaze and access to the forest across the region has been blocked.

This is the latest in a spate of wildfires that has swept through southern Europe and North Africa in recent weeks.

At least 65 people were killed by fires in Algeria last week, while British firefighters have been sent to battle wildfires raging in Greece.

Thousands were evacuated from an island near Athens and a volunteer firefighter died during a blaze.

Fires in Turkey have killed at least eight people, including a volunteer who was carrying drinking water and other refreshments to firefighters in Marmaris.

They have been described as the worst in at least a decade.

Two people were killed in fires in the southern Calabria region in Italy, as Sicily declared a state of emergency to last six months.

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Massive fires also have been burning across Siberia in northern Russia for weeks, forcing the evacuation on 7 August of a dozen villages.

In all, wildfires have burned nearly 15 million acres this year in Russia.

And on 16 August, hundreds of people were evacuated after wildfires broke out in wooded hills outside Jerusalem in Israel.

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