Around 3,000 Evacuated From Campsites And Towns After Wildfires Break Out On France-Spain Border

AROUND 650 firefighters and eight Canadairs were deployed to tackle a fire which broke out near Perpignan in southern France.

The huge blaze broke out late on Monday, August 14, between the municipalities of Saint-André and Argelès-sur-Mer in the Pyrénées-Orientales region near the border with Spain.

‘Fire in the process of being fought in the communes of Sorède, Saint-André and Argelès-sur-Mer in the south of the Pyrénées-Orientales department. The fire broke out shortly after 5 pm and has spread over 480 hectares in a peri-urban area with a high concentration of tourists’, tweeted the local government, Préfet des Pyrénées-Orientales.

Approximately 500 hectares of land are said to have been destroyed as the flames burned violently, fed by strong winds. Its spread threatened the municipalities of Argelès-sur-Mer, Saint-André and Sorède.

Residents of Saint-André witnessed the sight of the fire creating a wall at the end of the street. Flames reportedly jumped from garden to garden as the gusts of wind moved them along.

A tweet from the Gendarmerie des Pyrénées-Orientales read: ‘#Incendies  By land and air means, the action of the firefighters made it possible to fix the fire. The @Gendarmerie_066 is committed and remains mobilized:  Management of road flows. Evacuation of people.  Securing goods. #SaintAndré #FeuxDeForêt’.

Locals attempted to keep the flames at bay

In the middle of the suffocating smoke, inhabitants worked on the front line before the firefighters finally arrived on the scene.

‘I came to lend a hand’, one local told ‘It is impossible for them to extinguish the blaze because it is too powerful and unpredictable. The only solution is to water the walls and hedges again and again, and above all, keep the flames away from the gas cylinders’ they explained.

Fed by a hot and dry southerly wind, the propagation of the fire took everybody in the area by surprise. Around 3,000 people were evacuated early in the evening as the fire approached three busy campsites, threatening tents and camper vans. ‘I was really scared. I just wanted to get away from there’, a camper explained to the French news outlet.

An incandescent line circled the town of Saint-André, and in the darkness, it appeared to be creeping increasingly closer. The priority of the firefighters at that moment was to protect the houses.

20 firefighters suffered injuries

20 firefighters were injured while tackling the flames, including one seriously, with the blaze eventually extinguished at around 3 am this Tuesday 15.

According to his office, Christophe Béchu, the Minister for the Ecological Transition, was expected to visit the site on Tuesday afternoon.

He was going there in order to ‘establish an initial assessment, visit one of the campsites, and discuss the incident with the personnel who had been mobilised’. They specified that: ‘the situation remains tense and reconnaissance continues’.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at