Flights Resume From Marseille Airport Following Wildfires

Cheryl Sanders
August 12, 2016

Wildfires in southern France are threatening the city of Marseille, burning homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents, BBC reported.

France sent 1,500 firefighters to tackle a number of fierce blazes that gutted buildings and forced more than 1,000 people to flee their homes.

The initial cause of the fires in France, which started in Rognac, north of Vitrolles, is unknown.

Today, authorities said that the wildfires are for the moment under control, but if the wind picks up it the fire may begin to spread again. "It's progressing fast", he told BFM-TV.

"The smoke was so thick that we couldn't see the village, which is just a kilometre (0.6 miles) from here", said Nathalie Dephino, an official at the centre.

Five hundred firefighters have been deployed in the Pyrenees area, with reinforcements arriving from Spain.

Meanwhile fires in Madeira's picturesque capital Funchal, which had turned the sky orange and forced foreign holidaymakers to be evacuated, were brought under control overnight.

At the port of Fos-sur-Mer, northwest of Marseille, 800 hectares (2,000 acres) went up in flames yesterday, Rampon told AFP.

Marseille-Provence Airport rerouted incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft. With winds still high, authorities said Thursday the danger was not over for some nearby French towns and highways in the area were closed.

"Violent winds are exposing the area to the risk of new fires", Rampon said, adding that the dry vegetation was a "matter of concern".

Delta has issued a travel waiver for passengers whose flights to or from Marseille were affected by the fire.

Hollande, speaking in his home region of Correze in central France, said "those responsible will be found and punished".

On Madeira, the flames encroached on the capital Funchal and are blamed for the deaths of three elderly people whose homes caught light.

A hotel overlooking Funchal was destroyed and more than 150 homes were left uninhabitable, officials said.

The most risky fire was burning around Fos-Sur-Mer, 25 miles northwest of Marseille, which is home to a large vast industrial zone where oil and petrochemicals are stocked.

His government released a statement Thursday assuring visitors that tourism facilities on the island - a popular vacation destination - were returning to normal, despite the fires still burning.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa visited the island Thursday, surveying the damage from the fires and tweeting: "Now we must move on to the next phase: restoring confidence and rebuilding what there is to rebuild".

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