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900 firefighters battle ‘mega-fire’ in southern France

BESSÈGES, FRANCE (AFP) – Over 900 firefighters backed by aircraft were deployed yesterday to battle a massive blaze in France’s southern Gard region that burnt 600 hectares overnight.

“This fire is far from being done, there are fronts in hard-to-reach areas that we haven’t tackled and that are advancing freely,” said a senior member of the fire service Eric Agrinier.

“It’s going to be a feat of endurance.”

Working into the night after the blaze began on Thursday, firefighters set backfires to protect inhabited areas.

Described by emergency responders as a “mega-fire”, the blaze started near the village of Bordezac and forced evacuations from nearby Besseges and other settlements on Thursday night.

The local prefect’s office said around 100 people had to be put up in holiday homes and restaurants in the area, which is about 90 kilometres north of Montpellier and the Mediterranean coast.

Firefighters spray water during a wildfire near Besseges, southern France. PHOTO: AFP