The Latest: Wildfires in Italy fueled by drought, high temps

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The Latest: Wildfires in Italy fueled by drought, high temps
The Latest: Wildfires in Italy fueled by drought, high temps

PARIS (AP) – The Latest on wildfires in southern France and Portugal (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

Wildfires are 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.

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12:30 p.m.

Firefighters have stepped up their battle against flames lapping at Mediterranean forests in the picturesque French hilltop town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas, where at least 10,000 people were evacuated.

Col. Eric Martin, of the firefighting unit in the Var region of the Cote d’Azur, said on Wednesday that nearly 600 firefighters were trying to contain the flames that had run through 1,300 hectares of Bormes, a magnet for tourists in southeastern France. At least 3,000 of the evacuees were campers.

The Bormes blaze was morphing into the largest in the area. Firefighters also were fighting a large blaze in nearby La Londes-Les-Maures.

The Toulon airport to the west was briefly closed.

Numerous blazes have been hopscotching along the Cote d’Azur since Monday.

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11:30 a.m.

Almost 1,700 firefighters supported by 17 water-dropping aircraft are tackling wildfires in Portugal, where every summer large areas of woodland are scorched.

The Portuguese Civil Protection Agency says Wednesday that emergency services have brought more than 20 other forest blazes under control as high winds calmed down during the night.

The worst fires were around the town of Macao, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon, where deputy mayor Antonio Louro said the damage to livelihoods of local farmers was “catastrophic.”

Many people in the area make their living from the local pine and eucalyptus forests, which are bone dry after months without significant rainfall.

More than 70 percent of Portugal is enduring a severe drought.

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9:30 a.m.

The top official of France’s Var region on the Mediterranean coast says that 10,000 people were evacuated as blazes hopscotching around the Riviera tore through the town of La Londe-les-Maures.

The prefecture said in a statement on Wednesday that a violent fire took off just before 11 p.m. the night before, and 540 firefighters were sent in to the region.

The statement said that some 10,000 people – about 3,000 of them campers – were evacuated from La Londe and nearby Bormes and La Lavandou.

Four tracker planes and a fire-fighting aircraft were sent in. About 800 hectares of back-country forest had burned by morning.

Fires began raging along the coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations with flames reaching a corner of Saint-Tropez.

A forest fire rages on a hillside in the outskirts of La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Smoke rises above a forest as a fire burns near La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A gendarme takes snapshots of the charred remains of burnt caravans and camper vans at a warehouse in La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A firefighting plane drops fire retardant over a forest near La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A forest fire burns near Seillons-Source- d’Argent, southern France, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Hundreds of firefighters are battling blazes fanned by high winds in more than a dozen zones in the Riviera region of southern France. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
People kook at a forest fire near Seillons-Source- d’Argent, southern France, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Hundreds of firefighters are battling blazes fanned by high winds in more than a dozen zones in the Riviera region of southern France. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A firefighting plane drops fire retardant over a forest near La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A forest fire burns near Seillons-Source- d’Argent, southern France, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Hundreds of firefighters are battling blazes fanned by high winds in more than a dozen zones in the Riviera region of southern France. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
People watch smoke rising above a forest as a wildfire burns near La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A forest fire burns near Seillons-Source- d’Argent, southern France, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Hundreds of firefighters are battling blazes fanned by high winds in more than a dozen zones in the Riviera region of southern France. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A forest fire rages on a hillside in the outskirts of La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
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