Terrifying moment tourists gasp as their bus inches past a raging wildfire on the island of Corsica as the two teenage arsonists suspected of being behind massive blaze on the French Riviera are arrested

 
26 July 2017

published by http://www.dailymail.co.uk


France - This is the terrifying moment a packed bus inched past a raging wildfire as it engulfed a roadside house on the French island of Corsica.

Tourists can be heard gasping and crying out as the coach drives slowly past the inferno at Biguglia on the island's fire-ravaged north east coast.

Footage shows huge flames sweeping through a property and sparks drifting across the road as frightened passengers film the blaze on their mobile phones.

The video emerged as families woke up having spent a second night sleeping on the beach in the French Riviera amid wildfires likened to Dante's inferno. Pictures show makeshift camp beds lined up on the sand at Bormes-les-Mimosas and people asleep under their beach towels.

French authorities said this morning that they are close to containing the fierce blaze - but fear further flareups on this afternoon due to lack of moisture and a pickup in the wind.

Last night British holidaymakers told of their terror after fleeing for their lives as wildfires threatened upmarket resorts in the region.

It comes as it emerged two suspected teenage arsonists were in custody in the south of France today after 'criminal activity' was blamed for fires that have brought terror to thousands of holidaymakers.

Tourists can be heard gasping and crying out as the coach drives slowly past the inferno at Biguglia on the island's fire-ravaged north east coast

Vast stretches of scorched earth creeps up to the fences of homes in Biguglia, Corsica, as firefighters desperately battle to save buildings from wildfires in the region

Hundreds of firefighters - backed by water bombing planes - have been battling the fires which have ravaged Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Albania and Turkey in recent days

Portugal is to reduce the number of eucalyptus groves after the highly flammable plant was blamed for last month's deadly forest fires.
 

Parliament voted for the measure Wednesday as part of ongoing forest law reforms that started in April, before the blaze in the central Pedrogao Grande region that killed 64 people and injured more than 250.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa last week urged measures to prevent a repeat catastrophe, while also highlighting the challenges of forest redevelopment.

"We can't refuse to curb the growth of eucalyptus because we're worried about its impact on the paper industry," he said last week, referring to a sector that represents 4.9 percent of Portuguese exports.

Eucalyptus is Portugal's most widespread forest plant, according to the country's Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests.

But it is cited as a cause of that lay waste annually to around 100,000 hectares of vegetation.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-eucalyptus-deadly-portugal-forest.html#jCp
Portugal is to reduce the number of eucalyptus groves after the highly flammable plant was blamed for last month's deadly forest fires.
 

Parliament voted for the measure Wednesday as part of ongoing forest law reforms that started in April, before the blaze in the central Pedrogao Grande region that killed 64 people and injured more than 250.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa last week urged measures to prevent a repeat catastrophe, while also highlighting the challenges of forest redevelopment.

"We can't refuse to curb the growth of eucalyptus because we're worried about its impact on the paper industry," he said last week, referring to a sector that represents 4.9 percent of Portuguese exports.

Eucalyptus is Portugal's most widespread forest plant, according to the country's Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests.

But it is cited as a cause of that lay waste annually to around 100,000 hectares of vegetation.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-eucalyptus-deadly-portugal-forest.html#jCp
Portugal is to reduce the number of eucalyptus groves after the highly flammable plant was blamed for last month's deadly forest fires.

Parliament voted for the measure Wednesday as part of ongoing forest law reforms that started in April, before the blaze in the central Pedrogao Grande region that killed 64 people and injured more than 250.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa last week urged measures to prevent a repeat catastrophe, while also highlighting the challenges of forest redevelopment.

"We can't refuse to curb the growth of eucalyptus because we're worried about its impact on the paper industry," he said last week, referring to a sector that represents 4.9 percent of Portuguese exports.

Eucalyptus is Portugal's most widespread forest plant, according to the country's Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests.

But it is cited as a cause of that lay waste annually to around 100,000 hectares of vegetation.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-eucalyptus-deadly-portugal-forest.html#jCp
Portugal is to reduce the number of eucalyptus groves after the highly flammable plant was blamed for last month's deadly forest fires.
 

Parliament voted for the measure Wednesday as part of ongoing forest law reforms that started in April, before the blaze in the central Pedrogao Grande region that killed 64 people and injured more than 250.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa last week urged measures to prevent a repeat catastrophe, while also highlighting the challenges of forest redevelopment.

"We can't refuse to curb the growth of eucalyptus because we're worried about its impact on the paper industry," he said last week, referring to a sector that represents 4.9 percent of Portuguese exports.

Eucalyptus is Portugal's most widespread forest plant, according to the country's Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests.

But it is cited as a cause of that lay waste annually to around 100,000 hectares of vegetation.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-eucalyptus-deadly-portugal-forest.html#jCp

The 16-year-old alleged arsonists, who have not been identified, were in police cells in Martigues, between Marseille and Montpellier, preparing for another day of questioning.

They are thought to have set fire to parched shrub land on Tuesday, causing one of the blazes that have engulfed more than 15 square miles of countryside. Renaud Muselier, president of the Provence regional council, told FranceInfo radio station that many of the fires were ‘of criminal origin’, and that the ‘activity of arsonists’ had to be stopped.

More than 10,000 people – including celebrities and royalty – were forced from homes, hotels and campsites in the middle of the night yesterday.

They described pine trees 'lit up like matches' as the tinderbox forests at the back of the Riviera went up in flames.

One said the night sky of southern France was 'like Dante's Inferno'. As the fires raged for a third day, leaving normally blue skies black with smoke, one local politician said: 'It is a disaster area. There is nothing left.'

Tourists were forced to sleep on beaches in makeshift camps. Anne Davies, from Cardiff, woke at a campsite in Bormes-les-Mimosas to discover the hills were ablaze.

'We've been coming here for 34 years and I've never seen fires this big,' said Mrs Davies, 74. 'When I looked back the whole of the hillside was on fire.

'I was very frightened, particularly as I can't run that fast any more. The beach was full of people fleeing from the fire and there must have been about 50 children in buggies with worried parents.'

Last night she, her 76-year-old husband John and friends David Heslop, 81, and his wife Carolyn, 78, from Sheffield, were spending their second night on the beach.

Mr Heslop said: 'My biggest fear was the wind was going to change. The fire would have engulfed us. There must be 500 gas canisters and 500 petrol tanks in the campsite. It would have been carnage.'

John Grant, on holiday near Bormes-les-Mimosas, told the BBC the night sky was lit up 'like Dante's inferno'. 'It was scary,' he said. 'This was certainly larger than anything we had seen previously.'

Ollie Marriage, 44, from Newbury, Berkshire, described 'an explosion with masses of black smoke... like thousands of matches setting on fire, except the matches were trees'.

He took his wife Penny, and children Sasha, 13, and Luke, 12, to safety after the wildfire threatened their villa in Gigaro.

'Within just two minutes the fires got completely out of control and were spreading fast,' he said.

Retired teacher Ros Roberts, 64, from Ludlow, Shropshire, was with her husband Bruce in their caravan at Camp du Domaine.

She said: 'An alarm began to ring out, then cars came around with sirens and a Tannoy telling everyone to move to the beach. We could see and smell the black smoke.'

Kim Stone, 54, from Farnham, Surrey, was staying with her sister Julie Winslet, 46, at a beachfront pitch near Camp du Domaine.

'In the 45 years I've been coming here, I've never seen winds like it. We came out and saw the hills on fire and the sky lit up. If it wasn't for those water planes we would have been in serious trouble.'

Diana and John Wardill, from Yorkshire, fled in their car after a blaze neared their home in Saint-Tropez. 'It was shocking.

It happened so quickly,' said Mrs Wardill, 70. 'As soon as the flames touched an umbrella pine, it just crackled up. It was just like a tinderbox.'

Journalist Lisa Minot, who was at a forest campsite, said: 'They evacuated everyone down to the beach and we have been here ever since.

There are very strong winds... and this is what is hampering the efforts to fight the fire, because they really cannot predict where the flames are going to go next.'

Fatherland author Robert Harris was among those evacuated. He posted a series of pictures of fires near Cap Benat on Twitter.

Dame Joan Collins, who had been forced to abandon her villa near Saint-Tropez late on Monday, said it was 'a nightmare,' while members of the Luxembourg royal family fled their summer home in Cabasson.

The fires have been blamed on lightning, barbecues and discarded cigarettes, although Bormes mayor Francois Arizzi said it was arson.

More than 4,000 firemen have been battling the flames, helped by aircraft including water bombers. At least 12 firemen have been injured.

Locals and tourists were evacuated after a ferocious fire spread from La Londe-Les-Maures to around the picturesque hilltop town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas, where as many as 3,000 campers were staying, on Wednesday.

Terrifying photos from Bormes-Les-Mimosas showed flames rising just hundreds of yards away from a campsite where tourists had been sleeping on the sand, having been evacuated in the early hours of the morning.

Further south of the French mainland, flames tore through 4,950 acres of forest on the northern end of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze in France.

Meanwhile massive blazes have destroyed thousands of acres of woodland, crops and vineyards across Southern Europe.

Hundreds of firefighters - backed by water bombing planes - have been battling the fires which have ravaged Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Albania and Turkey in recent days.

Today, British author Robert Harris said he had been among thousands evacuated and posted a series of pictures on Twitter showing fires burning through the undergrowth near the seaside town of Bormes-les-Mimosas.

To the east, the deputy mayor of La Croix-Valmer, Rene Carandante, described a landscape of blackened headlands fringed by charred umbrella pines.

'It's a disaster area. There's nothing left,' he said of an area where green forest had once framed the azure waters of the Mediterranean.

The new blaze came a day after France asked for Europe's help to tackle the flames already raging in the tinder dry south, including near the popular resort of Saint-Tropez.

'Apocalyptic' wildfires across southern Europe, sparked by a series of heatwaves across the continent, come as many Britons prepare to set off on their summer holidays this week.

On Tuesday more than 4,000 firefighters and troops backed by 19 water bombers had already been mobilised to extinguish flames in southern France, which have left swathes of charred earth in their wake.

A palace spokesperson in Luxembourg told Hello Magazine the Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa are stuck in France after being evacuated.

Also with them in their property in Cabasson were Henri's father Jean and other members of the family including children.

At least 12 firefighters have been injured and 15 police officers affected by smoke inhalation since the fires broke out on Monday, according to the authorities.

About 3,000 of those evacuated from the picturesque coastal village of Bormes-les-Mimosas were tourists staying in campgrounds, some of whom ended up spending the night in sleeping bags on the beach.

Village mayor Francois Arizzi said between 10,000 and 12,000 people had been moved to public shelters but that some had preferred to sleep in their cars.

Tuesday night's blaze, which started in a caravan storage depot, was the work of arsonists, authorities believe. Other fires have been blamed on discarded cigarettes.

Holidaymakers at the Camp du Domaine campsite in Bormes-les-Mimosas told of having to flee at 2am as fire approached.

Some 1,000 camping plots were abandoned with one British tourist, Lisa Minot, saying there was 'utter chaos' as people flocked to the site's private beach.

Dramatic footage also showed fires raging further inland, near Peyrolles-en-Provence. British actress Dame Joan Collins has revealed she was among those who fled from her villas in the French Riviera.

And this morning, British author Robert Harris posted a series of pictures on Twitter showing fires burning through the undergrowth near Bormes-les-Mimosas.

The author wrote: '2.50 am. Just evacuated from Cap Benat. Forest fire in southern France near Le Lavandou & Bormes-les-Mimosas. Adds a certain drama to a holiday...'

In a later tweet he said firefighters were 'battling to save Cap & Gaou Benat'.

'Brave pompiers of Bormes-les-Mimosas worked all night to save hundreds of homes. 10,000 people evacuated,' he told his Twitter followers.

The blazes on Tuesday had devoured around 4,000 hectares (15 square miles) of land along the Mediterranean coast, in the mountainous interior and on the island of Corsica.

With strong winds and dry brush creating a dangerous mix, the government asked its European Union partners to send two extra fire-fighting planes - a request immediately fulfilled by Italy, according to the EU.

But one union official denounced what he said was a lack of spare parts preventing all the aircraft required from being put into action.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced on Tuesday that France would be adding six more firefighting planes to its fleet during a visit to Corsica.

A fire in La Croix-Valmer near Saint-Tropez, a resort frequented by the rich and famous, had been contained, local fire chief Philippe Gambe de Vergnes said Tuesday.

But the blaze had already consumed 400 hectares of coastal forest in an area dotted with homes, he said. More than 200 people had to be moved from the area.

La Croix-Valmer's deputy mayor Rene Carandante described a desolate landscape of blackened headlands fringed by charred umbrella pines, where green forest had once framed the azure waters of the Mediterranean.

'It's a disaster area. There's nothing left,' he said.

Francois Fouchier, of the local coastal conservation group, told AFP that local wildlife, such as the Hermann's tortoises, would be victims of the fires. 'We are going to find burnt shells.'

Around 50 miles inland, 300 hectares of pines and oaks went up in smoke near the village of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

A local official accused the authorities of failing to regularly remove dry undergrowth, making the forest a fire hazard.

The French island of Corsica, situated midway between France and Italy, was also assessing the damage.

A resident, whose house had at one point been in danger, spoke of 'apocalyptic' scenes.

In the end, disaster was averted after the wind died down, but the blaze engulfed 1,800 hectares of forest and burned several vehicles.

Further east, in Carros, north of Nice, a house, three vehicles and a warehouse went up in flames, according to regional authorities.

Speaking to France Info radio, Mayor Charles Scibetta described waking up to a 'lunar landscape' and said the inhabitants had a lucky escape.

'All of France is mobilised,' the head of the fire service in southeast France, Colonel Gregory Allione told France Info, adding that extra firefighters had been drafted in from the north.

Thomas Curt, a director at the Irsea institute for research into the environment and agriculture, said a fall-off in farming in southeast France since the 1970s had made it more prone to fires.

'Farmland is contracting and the forest is naturally expanding, making the area bushier,' he said.

A proliferation in the numbers of homes, roads and power lines near forests also increased the fire hazard, he added.

In mid-July, a blaze believed to have been ignited by a cigarette butt tossed out of a car ripped through 800 hectares of land near Aix-en-Provence.

The resorts of Frejus, Sainte-Maxime and Toulon were graded as being at an 'exceptional' risk, with experts warning that continued strong winds this week would see more areas affected.

One fire that erupted late on Monday near the La Croix-Valmer resort and yacht-filled marinas of Saint-Tropez sent clouds of thick black smoke into the sky above the packed beaches.

Flames burned across some 2,000 acres in the region, with two villas destroyed in the hills where Dynasty star Dame Joan Collins was staying just a few miles west of St Tropez.

The 84-year-old and ten others at her multi-million-pound holiday home, where the actress spends four months of the year, were evacuated late on Monday.

Tweeting a picture of the blazing hills yesterday, Dame Joan wrote: 'Luckily we were able to evacuate last night, not easy with 11 people in the house!'

In a statement, she said: 'All 11 family and friends are safe after abandoning our villa due to the fierce forest fires threatening our home.'

She later claimed the fire had been started by a barbecue, adding: 'All seems ok although fire still burning started by BarBQ.'

Local authorities said more than 100 people were evacuated and thousands of acres destroyed in and around St Tropez.

Michel Bernier, of France's civil defence forces, added: 'It's a very dangerous day.'

Another fire that scorched at least 2,000 acres in Luberon was believed to be under control yesterday morning, local firefighters said.

But one of the largest blazes was last night still ripping through swathes of hillside on the island of Corsica off the French coast.

More than 5,000 acres of forest were engulfed after the fire erupted on Monday night, with residents evacuated from their homes at the edge of the town of Biguglia.

One of the blazes along the French Riviera was thought to have been started by a bolt of lightning. However carelessly discarded cigarettes are often blamed for setting the tinderbox area alight.

Fires have erupted across much of southern Europe in recent weeks amid extremely high temperatures and dry weather during the peak holiday season.

More than 2,000 firefighters are battling nine major wildfires in Portugal, where drought conditions, high temperatures and strong winds are fueling the flames.

Almost 1,000 other firefighters are conducting mopping-up operations at 37 other Portuguese woodland blazes on Wednesday.

Ash floated in the air and vast plumes of smoke covered areas of central Portugal, in the area around Serta, about 125 miles northeast of Lisbon. The Civil Protection Agency said 24 water-dropping aircraft were in action.

Serta is close to Pedrogao Grande, where 64 people died in a wildfire last month. No injuries have been reported in recent days as the blazes raced through thick eucalyptus and pine forests.

Large wildfires are a common occurrence in summer in Portugal, where thousands of firefighters are on duty in the summer months.

Albania's interior ministry says that some 130 firefighters are battling 18 fire spots around the country.

Spokesman Ardian Bita says fires are blazing in five western and central districts, damaging 15 hectares (37 acres) of pastures, vineyards and dozens of olive trees.

Firefighters, military personnel and local authorities have been fighting about a dozen wildfires every day in Albania since the end of June. No injuries have yet been reported. Authorities have arrested several people accused of starting fires.

Meanwhile fires in Turkey have destroyed at least 600 acres of woodland in the Aegean province of Izmir.

'Compared to a year ago we have increased public awareness and have also had better communication with the communities and local authorities,' said Bita.

Wildfires are also burning across swaths of central and southern Italy, aided by the region's drought and high temperatures, but authorities say most have been caused by arson.

Civil protection authorities said they responded Tuesday to 26 requests for water and fire retardant airdrops throughout central and southern Italy, including in Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lazio and Puglia.

There were no reports of imminent threats to population areas on Wednesday. The fires have been raging for weeks, causing periodic evacuations and devastating large areas of forest and pasture.

The Coldiretti agriculture lobby says 50 billion bees were destroyed along with their hives in fires on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.

Coldiretti said another 20 percent of the bee population is estimated to have become disoriented from the smoke of the fires and died as a result.

On Sunday a forest fire in Croatia triggered 34 explosions thought to be mines left over from the war in the 1990s. An earlier blaze had spread to southern Croatia from Montenegro.

Southeast France is experiencing an exceptionally hot, dry summer that have made it especially vulnerable to fires.