Adverse weather conditions – drought, heat and strong winds – are complicating efforts to contain the blaze in the Gard region, but its fire department said the outlook was “more favourable” on Friday. Other small fires were extinguished.
The service said 880 hectares (2,100 acres) have burned so far at two different sites. More than 900 firefighters and two planes fought the flames in the area.
Near the Bordezac fire, villages were evacuated and roads closed. Laurent Joseph, a senior official in the neighboring Bouches-du-Rhône region, told BFM TV that authorities expected to deal with the fire “for several days”.
The fire threatens the Cévennes, a mountainous region partially protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs through much of southeastern France.
The regional administration or the prefecture banned Friday until Monday entry into several forests in the sector, “to reduce the risk of new fires starting” while firefighters are working to extinguish those still in flames.
France’s national weather service put several nearby areas on red alert on Friday for fire risks and France’s environment ministry warned citizens in the region to pay close attention to fire risks.
Wildfires have also affected other countries in Europe this summer, from Greece to Portugal. Scientists say climate change is bringing more drought and higher temperatures that make it easier to start and spread fires.