900 firefighters battle massive fire in southeast France

PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters backed by water-dropping planes battled a large forest fire Friday in southeastern France that has forced the evacuation of nearby villages.

Thirteen firefighters have been injured in Bordezac — the village where the fire started. Overall, 18 firefighters have been injured amid several forest fires that have burned for days in the region, according to France Info.

Unfavorable weather — drought, heat and strong winds — are complicating efforts to contain the blaze in the Gard region but its fire service said prospects were “more favorable” Friday. Other smaller fires have been extinguished.

The service said 620 hectares (more than 1,500 acres) have burned so far. Nearby villages have been evacuated and highways closed as more than 900 firefighters and two planes fought the flames. Laurent Joseph, a top official in the neighboring Bouches-du-Rhone region, told BFM TV that authorities expect to deal with the fire “for several days.”

The fire threaten the Cévennes, a mountainous region partially protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site that crosses a large section of southeast France.

France’s national meteorological service put several neighboring areas on red alert Friday for fire risks and France’s Environment Ministry warned citizens in the area to pay careful attention to fire risks.

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