Thousands of holidaymakers and locals evacuated as ‘huge’ wildfire rages around St Tropez , France
Thousands have been evacuated from their homes on the French Riviera after huge wildfires broke out in St Tropez, as firefighters battled to control the blaze.
BBC news presenter Geeta Guru-Murthy and her husband Philip Collins had to abandon their burning villa and their car as they escaped the raging fires bringing horror to holidaymakers.
As many as 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and holiday sites while others were locked down in a holiday centre for Air France employees.
At least 22 people suffered from smoke inhalation or minor fire-related injuries, including two firefighters.
Ms Guru-Murthy and Mr Collins, the 54-year-old journalist, were with their two children as they fled the villa in vineyards in Cogolin, close to the celebrity haven of Saint-Tropez.
Wildfires were raging from the early hours of Tuesday as up to 1,000 emergency workers in the Var region on France’s Mediterranean coast fought the blaze.
They were also involved in the mass evacuation of the holidaymakers, including Ms Guru-Murthy’s family, and others from Britain.
It was just the latest blaze in a summer of wildfires that have swept across the Mediterranean region, leaving areas in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Algeria and Spain in smoldering ruins.
Ms Guru-Murthy tweeted shaky video of huge flames, and described how her evacuation path was blocked by three different fires.
She said: ‘We hope vineyard protecting us but lots of sparks and wind changing. We can’t drive out and need road connecting us to be safe.’
Pleading for help, Ms Guru-Murthy revealed she had to abandon her car to the blaze after it was caught in a ditch.
She then added: ‘Being evacuated in convoy led by police but tree blocking roads, trees on fire behind us, waiting for more help.’
Her brother, Channel 4 TV anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, later revealed she had safely made it to an evacuation centre at a local gym.
A local government official said 12 campsites had been evacuated, and 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of land had been burnt.
Water-dumping planes and emergency helicopters zipped back and forth over hills lined with chestnut, pine and oak trees.
The sky above the world-famous Riviera port of Saint-Tropez continued to glow red on Tuesday.
‘Water-bombing aircraft is among the equipment being used to try and contain the fires,’ said a spokesman for the Var emergency services.
‘Tourists from all nationalities, including many from Britain, have been asked to withdraw from the area as a preventive measure,’ she added.
By midday on Monday there had been no known casualties, said the source, but she added that the ‘situation is getting more serious as the heat intensifies.’
Residents and tourists are being given temporary accommodation in schools and council buildings around the area.
One evacuee told France-Bleu that smoke enveloped his car as he returned to his campsite and he had just enough time to grab his baby daughter’s milk and basic belongings before fleeing. Another told BFM television about escaping as his hotel caught fire.
Backed by planes and helicopters, more than 900 firefighters worked Tuesday to contain the blaze, civil security service spokesman Alexandre Jouassard said.
President Emmanuel Macron, who is also holidaying in the area, was among those who visited emergency workers.