At least 12,000 people were evacuated overnight on Wednesday after a new wildfire broke out in southern France, which was already battling massive blazes that have consumed swathes of forest, authorities said.
The new fire 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.
TRT World's Francis Collings has this report.
"The evacuations, at least 10,000, followed the progression of the fire. It's an area that doubles or triples its population in summer," said a fire service official near Bormes-les-Mimosas on the Mediterranean coast.
2.50 am. Just evacuated from Cap Benat. Forest fire in southern France near Le Lavandou & Bormes-les-Mimosas pic.twitter.com/PFcZnrHUuO— Robert Harris (@Robert___Harris) July 26, 2017
On Tuesday over 4,000 firefighters and troops backed by 19 water bombers had already been mobilised to extinguish the flames, which have left swathes of charred earth in their wake.
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.
The blazes on Tuesday had devoured around 4,000 hectares 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 firefighting planes, a request immediately fulfilled by Italy, according to the EU.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced on Tuesday that France would be adding six more firefighting planes to its fleet during a visit to Corsica.
Meanwhile, Portugal, which suffered deadly forest fires last month, has been battling fresh blazes since Sunday in the centre of the country, forcing the evacuation of around 10 villages.
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 on 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 said, "It's a disaster area. There's nothing left."
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.
Riviera becoming "bushier"
"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.